07 - An Autumn Camp
Story index at the bottom
By Richard UK
Tuesday, January 29th 2002 - 08:20:45 AM
My Camping Yarns...
I posted a message a few days ago saying I would begin a new story shortly. Before I begin I think I should add a couple of explanatory comments.
I mentioned prior to my last post that it was not in chronological order. I had been reminded of the events of Christmas morning from reading some old diaries and felt it would be a seasonal offering which would not upset the "historical" aspect of my narrative since those events "stood on their own".
The following story took place a few weeks after I had been the subject of an unprovoked and unpleasant attack by older youths at school. They were not part of our usual circle and were summarily dealt with on my behalf by my brother and close friends. Those who have not followed my adventures may wish to check out "A Bad Day at School" in the archive.
Those of you with a retentive memory may recall that, when questioned by my mates following this episode, I stated quite unequivocally that I intended to continue in our "TUG group". Others thought, quite rightly, that when faced with the prospect of being tied up again I might experience an adverse reaction. I was indeed fortunate to be surrounded by a close knit group of kind and considerate friends who ensured by their actions that I quickly overcame my misgivings and was once more in the thick of the action...
Tuesday, January 29th 2002 - 08:26:56 AM
An Autumn Camp - Part 1
A few weeks had passed since my unpleasant experience at the hands of older boys at school (see A Bad Day at School - December 8th). The scars and weals on my wrists had largely healed, leaving me with three red marks, the remains of rope burns, which I carry to this day.
The autumn half term break was fast approaching when my father surprised me by saying, "I guess you will be joining your mates, camping in the woods next week". The weather was still pleasantly warm but no one had mentioned the possibility of a camp, not to mention anything else this might involve, and it appeared father might know something I didn't. I was furious. It appeared my pals were making plans, my family were aware of this and no one had mentioned it to me!
The next day I vented my anger on James, David and Stuart who all looked a little sheepish before Stuart said, "Not so fast, Richard. We didn't mention it because we weren't sure you would be allowed to join in, in view of your latest adventure. As a matter of fact, we have been keeping in close contact with your brother and it was only yesterday that he said it would be OK to tell you!" This was even worse than I suspected - it now appeared my big brother was making decisions affecting my social life.
Stuart was speaking again, "Look, to be honest we were not sure you would really want to play any more tie-up games after what happened to you and we just didn't know how to approach the subject. You know you are more than welcome if you are sure you really want to". "Of course I want to. Apart from the prospect of sorting you three out for your deception, I've got a new sleeping bag to try out" I replied. Suddenly I grinned. "Anyway, it sounds like permission is a formality after what Dad said!"
I was not however going to let Chris off so lightly and that evening I tackled him. His initial reaction was to laugh, but then he said more seriously, "Don't take it too much to heart, Titch. We were all quite worried about you". I interrupted him furiously, "What, you mean Mum and Dad know about this," I said holding out my arms. "Of course they know, Richard. How did you think you were going to hide marks like that from them? How are your wrists now?" "Oh, just a little sore, like they were bruised from being tied too long!" I replied casually. "Well that's fine, because that's what I told the oldies," Chris responded." On that basis they have agreed to let you go. Guess they will be glad to have some peace and quiet for a couple of days!" (As an aside, Chris told me some time later that he had told our parents most of the story, realising that secrecy was out of the question. While not receiving precise details they also knew the culprits had suffered some degree of retribution at the hands of Chris and others and while they didn't approve, agreed it was better not to take the matter any further since the bullying ended at school. They never mentioned the marks on my arms, respecting my privacy and perhaps aware of my embarrassment. This was the first intimation that our parents knew far more about what went on when we were notionally involved in our scouting activities but they were always the very soul of discretion).
I considered what Chris had said and then brightened up. "Does this mean you are joining in again?" I asked, "because if so I'm going to make you suffer". "You and whose army?" Chris chuckled. "No, I have other plans for the weekend. In any case I think it would be better if you do this without me. It may be harder for you than you expect". I was mystified by his comment but dropped the subject.
The school holiday was a whole week and the plan was to meet in the woods on Saturday about lunch time and camp for two nights, leaving us with the rest of the week for school tasks (and recovering from the excitement). We would have some time for working on some of our scout projects away from the gaze of our (admittedly easygoing) leaders and, of course, lots of time for a battle.
School ended on the Friday afternoon and that evening Father told me that he would take my gear down by car in the morning and that, if they could bring it round early enough he would do the same for my pals. The message was duly delivered and by 9.00am there were three more small boys (James, David and Robert) annoying my mother and raiding our fridge for goodies.
Father had taken our gear as promised and by 10.30 my other parent was becoming exasperated. When Stuart suddenly and unexpectedly joined us (he lived further away than the others and usually met us in the woods) she finally lost her patience and suggested we leave there and then, exhorting us not to bother to be too early home on Monday. As she said this she winked at me, but as we trooped out of the back door she grabbed Stuart by the shoulder and held him back for a moment. For some inexplicable reason she had always thought my fair-haired friend more sensible than the rest of us (if only she had known!) and glancing back over my shoulder I overheard her tell him not to allow the others to be too rough with me. I began to blush as I saw him solemnly nod his agreement and turned rapidly away so that he wouldn't know I had heard.
Having no gear to carry we were able to stroll along in a casual fashion and by the time we reached the valley floor and the olive groves that grew there we were plotting, scheming, joking and indulging in the sort of horseplay that amuses twelve year olds. Under the cover of the trees our rough housing intensified until a regular all in wrestling match was taking place. James was battling with David while I was involved in a general melêe with the other two. After a few moments I found myself on my back with Robert sitting on my stomach, pinning my shoulders down with his knees. Suddenly he removed his weight and with Stuart's deft assistance I was flipped onto my stomach and pinned down again. As I involuntarily turned over I glanced around and realised the other battle had stopped and those protagonists were grinning down at me. I saw a length of cord dangling from someone's hands. I had an overwhelming feeling this had been a set up but I had not anticipated what would happen next.
All at once I began trembling uncontrollably and as I felt my arms seized and pulled behind my back I looked round at my "mates" and whispered, "please don't hurt me!" There was what can only be described as a stunned silence and I watched them exchange glances. My hands were still being held firmly behind my back by Robert but his brother David said quite gently, "We promise we won't hurt you. If you want us to release you just say the word!" I had been shocked by the wave of fear that had flowed over me but I wasn't going to plead with my "captors" under any circumstances. Although my hands were still shaking I lay motionless and finally said softly, "Do what you have to do then." The group remained still for a few moments until Stuart broke the silence and said, "OK, let's get on with it". His words had an electrifying effect - someone reached down and I felt the familiar prickle at my wrists as a loop of rope was passed around them and tightened. More turns followed in the familiar lashing, both horizontally and vertically and then Robert removed his weight from my back and I lay in the dust at my friends' feet, my hands tied behind my back, not so tightly as to be uncomfortable, but nevertheless very securely.
Hands now grasped my shoulders and rolled me over before helping me to sit up and the other boys crouched around me. I tested my bonds but knew only too well it was hopeless and gave up at once. Then I glared at Stuart and snarled "Judas! I heard the promise you made my mother". His response was simply to laugh but after a few seconds he said, "I promised your mother we would look after you and that is just what we are doing. I'm afraid you have rather been set up. Chris was afraid you might not be able to cope with taking part in a full scale game when it came to the crunch and we devised this scheme to capture you so that if necessary you could back out without any loss of face. How do you feel now?" I struggled vigorously, trying to get a purchase on the rope securing my hands. They were still shaking but I had no intention of admitting it to my pals, although I suspect they were well aware of this. My bid for freedom was an abject failure. "I'll live I expect, but you are so much dead meat when I get loose!" I responded. It was of course pure bravado and it merely produced a ripple of laughter around the group. "Well in that case we had better be on our way," James said. "Let's help Richard to his feet". "Hey guys, you are going to untie me now you've had your fun, aren't you?" "Nope!" came the swift response from the four boys simultaneously. I began to protest loudly, although at no time did I demand to be untied (something which I am certain would have been carried out at once), but after listening to my whinging for a couple of minutes David said, "He does make a lot of noise for a little'un. Guess there is no alternative - we'll have to gag him!" As he spoke he drew a large white bandanna out of the pocket of his shorts. I was already reconciled to facing the rest of our walk with my hands tied (I had after all done it once before) and it was quite clear I would not regain my freedom short of making demands which by now I was certain I did not want to do. On the other hand being gagged in a public place was another matter. I pleaded with my pals to leave my mouth free with a promise that I would co-operate and they finally relented. We therefore continued our way, still laughing and joking.
Soon I had actually forgotten my hands were bound until I attempted to join in the horseplay and stumbled. It produced a good deal of mirth from my captors who picked me up and dusted me down. After that, my pals assisted me over the rougher parts of the trail. My periodic queries about how long they were going to keep me tied up were each time met with a "wait and see" and in the end I decided to follow their advice. In this fashion we completed our journey and arrived outside one of our patrol huts, where several other boys were gathered. They greeted us in a friendly fashion but the fact that my hands were tied behind my back produced less surprise than it might reasonably have done.
I had given up pestering my captors so sat down on a convenient log and made myself comfortable while David recounted my unexpected adventure and explained how I had reacted. At this all eyes were turned on me enquiringly but without waiting for anyone to speak I answered their question for them, saying cheerily, "Oh, I'm fine now. I'm a little cross at being treated like this but to tell the truth I guess I'm grateful to these guys. If I had had to face being captured during a game without this experience I think I might have gone to pieces. I still owe you though!" I saw my four buddies grinning broadly at one another and James said, "I suppose we had better let him go now". Everybody laughed as Robert and David simultaneously said, "Oh, must we?" but it was left to Stuart to untie my hands and I sat there for a few moments rubbing the circulation back into my wrists...
Tuesday, January 29th 2002 - 08:32:03 AM
An Autumn Camp - Part 2
Since I had been kept in the dark about this event until a couple of days ago I was amazed to find that a dozen boys (all of them "regulars") would be camping over the weekend. Mike, Peter, Roger, Andrew and Mark were already here and as we chattered Matthew and his younger brother Paul joined us, engaged in a noisy argument. We gathered round the new comers and asked what was the matter.
Paul began to answer but his older brother grabbed him, clamping his hand tightly across the younger boy's mouth to silence him. "I've just about had enough of his moaning," Matthew said, at the same time giving us a big wink, which his brother was unable to see. "All the way here he has been moaning that I am over protective and should leave him to look after himself." I smiled inwardly as I recalled how Matthew had nearly destroyed us all by wanting to storm in recklessly to rescue his brother because Paul was being "tortured". At the same time, I had enjoyed some of that self-same "protection" recently, and not only from my big brother so I wasn't sure I entirely supported Paul! "The solution is simple!" Mike laughed. "We just ensure you two are on opposite sides when we commence the battle and that should solve the problem". He looked thoughtful for a moment and then added, "I suppose we can trust you not to apply any favouritism can we?" Paul finally managed to shake himself free from the gagging hand, glared at his brother and said, "You can certainly trust me!" Suddenly, Matthew laughed and said, "Fair enough, if that's how you want it. You had better watch out though!" We all laughed and got down to the task of pitching our tents etc. Mike had managed to persuade our leaders to lend us three six man tents which meant that we were going to be quite comfortable and rather than establish separate camps we agreed they should all be pitched together.
While most of the boys began work on the tents, Mike grasped my shoulder and took me to one side. "Listening to Matthew and Paul arguing reminded me that Paul should be the least of our worries. Are you sure you really want to be part of this?" I looked at Mike and saw the concern in his eyes. He had been one of my rescuers a few weeks before and perhaps the recollection was as fresh for him as it was for me. Then I thought of Matthew and Paul and it was like a heavy weight lifting from my shoulders. I grinned at Mike and said, "To be honest, I was a little shocked at my reaction when those four thugs attacked me earlier but I'm glad they did it - I'm fine now and I don't expect it will happen again. I enjoy these games and I would hate to have to give them up!" Mike grinned at me and said, "You really are a little perve, aren't you?" I felt myself colouring but before I could answer he went on, "That's great! I have a confession to make. The attack on you was planned two days ago after we heard you would be able to join us this weekend, and by rather more than the four who carried it out. You obviously had no suspicions this morning when Stuart arrived at your house unexpectedly and uninvited! I hope you will forgive us all - we thought it would give you a chance to change your mind "in private" so to speak. We all know how close you five are!" "I don't want to change my mind," I replied. "I suppose I ought to be angry with all this scheming going on behind my back, but I am really grateful to you all as I am sure I have got my confidence back. In any case, if our last battle is anything to go by it is you and Peter who should worry!" "Don't get your hopes up," Mike countered. "OK, if that's how you want it war it is and no quarter given!" I laughed and responded, "I never intended to give any, anyway". Somehow, I felt that wasn't quite what Mike meant. Just then, Roger joined us very hot and sweaty. "Are you guys going to help with these tents or just stand around like two old women gossiping all day?" I felt sure he knew exactly what Mike had been saying but we took the point and joined the others.
Another hour saw our camp properly pitched and we were able to relax over a cold lunch provided by various parents. Our afternoon was to be taken up with scouting work, led by Mike and Peter, the oldest in the group (we were more conscientious than readers might suspect from my stories!). We would then have the evening to make our plans over supper before bed. We were planning a short hike along the coast in the morning and then battle would commence in earnest after lunch.
The afternoon passed pleasantly enough and everyone worked hard although, inexplicably, knot work was by far the most popular subject. As everyone present was fairly efficient in this subject, and as this was probably the only topic that Mike and Peter would be reluctant to broaden our knowledge significantly, I could only assume that these ghouls were hoping for an opportunity to tie someone up. Towards the end of the session the audience finally got what they were waiting for.
Mike called for a volunteer. He had been talking about lashings and it was quite clear to everyone from his words why he wanted a "helper". It has to be understood that not all my friends were quite so willing to be bound as I normally was. Everyone expected to have to suffer in this way from time to time and no one raised a grouse but many of my friends, given the choice, would prefer to be doing the tying. Eyes were therefore cast down and an eerie silence descended. I could sense several eyes peering at me but on this occasion I was determined to remain free if at all possible.
The silence was finally broken by Matthew, saying, "If you guys are all going to sit there like lemons I guess I will have to help out. I volunteer Paul!" There was general laughter, and all eyes were turned towards the unfortunate boy who had been so outspoken earlier. He didn't look up but blushed deeply and before he had an opportunity to flee eager hands grasped him by the shoulders, lifted him to his feet and pushed him to the front of the circle. Paul was plainly furious with his brother and snarled, "I'll get even with you!" but he was given no time to reflect on his predicament, even as Matthew was rolling on the ground with laughter. While we all sat and giggled, Mike was like a showman. "First, the wrists!" he declaimed. As he spoke these words he grasped his victim by the shoulders, spun him around so Paul's back was to the audience and gripped his arms, pulling them behind his back and crossing the boy's wrists with a flourish. As he did so, Peter stepped forward with a length of rope and in what seemed like seconds Paul's hands were tied behind his back in a full blown diagonal lashing.
As our "demonstrators" stood back while Paul took the opportunity to struggle ineffectually, we all gasped in admiration. Alas, our admiration was not shared by the unfortunate victim who continued to threaten his brother with the most evil consequences. This was upsetting Mike's equanimity and he turned to Matthew and said, "Can't you keep him quiet?" Matthew's response was to produce a handkerchief from his pocket and with an air of seriousness hand it to Mike. With a flourish, the latter passed it to Peter who, without hesitation, stuffed it unceremoniously into the younger boy's mouth. Paul looked indignant, and although they didn't bind it in place he was silenced effectively.
Mike now had our full and undivided attention once more. In a very aloof tone he addressed his audience, "What you see here is of course a standard lashing, which has been applied by all of you here from time to time, more or less successfully. Now I want to show you how to deal with the feet!" I was watching Mike closely - he was having difficulty maintaining his pompous act. If he took much longer, he would be rolling around the floor with laughter. Poor Paul on the other hand seemed to have missed the joke - he was struggling furiously to free his hands (a waste of effort) and unable to push the gag out with his tongue was mmmpppfhing most satisfactorily. Mike managed to suppress his laughter and, at a signal from him, Peter grasped their victim and forced him to the floor, leaving him lying uncomfortably on his bound wrists. Without more ado Peter grabbed Paul's feet, pulled his legs apart and then crossed his ankles in the same manner as his wrists. With the same dexterity shown earlier another piece of rope appeared and the prisoner's ankles were bound in exactly the same manner as his hands. Finally, our two showmen turned Paul over so he was lying on his stomach. I looked on open mouthed - the diagonal lashing on Paul's ankles, with cords passing both vertically and horizontally around his limbs, meant he was unable to straighten his legs. His knees were spread wide apart while his bound feet were well clear of the ground, the professional way in which the ropes had been applied ensuring he had precious little movement within his bonds. It was quite clear that Paul would be unable to stand (unless he were able to perch on one leg with the other tied to it!) even supposing he was able to turn over and sit up. I was full of admiration. Mike and Peter stood back to admire their handiwork and at last the former was unable to contain himself any longer. A huge grin split his face and he dissolved into laughter, closely followed by Peter. Meanwhile, the audience actually applauded. Paul finally succeeded in pushing the cloth out of his mouth with his tongue and swore vengeance on his brother - he clearly didn't feel like congratulating our lecturers quite so heartily as the rest of us. He was swiftly silenced by Matthew who reminded him he was in no position to make threats of any sort. I guess he realised he had brought some of his present predicament upon himself and he decided to lay quietly, knowing that it was unlikely he would be left there long. This brought our afternoon's activities to an end.
Evening was fast approaching and Mike suggested getting the stoves started for supper. The group rapidly broke up as boys headed for our tents when suddenly a small voice said, "What about me?" It was Paul, and Mike and Matthew stopped short, looked at one another and giggled. James and I were also amongst the last to leave and I said we would take care of Paul so the older boys left us to it. We first helped Paul to turn over and then freed his ankles. He was still muttering threats under his breath but I stopped him by saying, "You have to admit that was awesome. I bet you couldn't have got free on your own even though no other lashings had been used!" "No, I guess you are right, Richard," he replied. "It was pretty cool! Still, when I complained to Matthew about treating me like a baby I didn't think he would rat on me like that". "Forget it," I suggested. "It's not always bad to have an older brother who takes care of you, but I reckon you could be in for trouble before the end of the weekend. Since Matthew will insist on opposing you so he can try to get more revenge, how do you feel about joining us? I don't know what Mike has in mind for tomorrow but there is no harm in thinking about teams now!" Paul nodded his assent immediately. "Right, that's settled then. Now, sit up and lean forward and we'll think about untying your hands". The reluctant prisoner complied with our request and as we set him free said, "I guess you are right about big brothers really, but I sure as hell don't intend to tell him sometime soon!" I laughed at his comments but my mind drifted back to a few weeks earlier - Matthew had been one of Chris's select group who dealt with my tormentors. I would be forever in his debt but it was a closely guarded secret known only to the boys who had been present.
We followed the others who had gathered in front of our three tents. The stoves were already alight and supper was being prepared. We found a heated discussion taking place over the sleeping arrangements. Matthew was particularly reluctant to share with his brother following the events of the afternoon but this was quickly solved when I said that Paul would join James, Stuart and me. This suited his brother who joined David, Robert and Mark leaving the older boys together...
Tuesday, January 29th 2002 - 11:36:59 PM
An Autumn Camp - Part 3
Over supper Mike outlined his proposals for the following afternoon. In truth, much had been worked out before hand so there was precious little to discuss, but it was all new to me since I hadn't been involved in the earlier planning. The group had decided it should be a game of "smugglers". A small band (four boys) would be given the objective of reaching the camp carrying "contraband" from a point some distance away. Mike made it clear that the starting point would be revealed on our short hike so it was obviously beyond the confines of the woods (our normal area). This introduced an element of excitement since there would be new territory to cover.
The remaining eight boys would endeavour to capture the smugglers by fair means (or foul) and naturally they themselves would be liable to be taken prisoner if the opportunity presented itself. Mike announced that he had a scheme for determining the winners, but despite persistent questioning he refused to reveal it until the morning. While "victory" was often illusory, never the less it was important since, under our usual rules of engagement prisoners from the losing side were required to remain as such after the end of the game (usually until supper). He then dropped his bombshell by stating that after much thought they had decided that the four eldest boys should be the smugglers. As he said this I saw his glance fall on me and I knew at once that they were trying to keep me out of any difficult situation if at all possible. I immediately reacted angrily: "No way, Mike! You lot wouldn't stand a chance, trampling round the bush like a herd of Elephants! You know very well we (taking in Stuart and James with a sweeping gesture) are much better at evasive tactics than you are". The truth of my statement was undeniable (we had something of a reputation within the troop) but it clearly left Mike, Roger and Peter in something of a quandary. "Look, I know you mean well but I'll take whatever is coming to me," I added. "My big brother isn't here and I don't need you to look after me, but in any case it is you who should be worried!" The three boys looked ruefully at me and suddenly capitulated. "OK, we give in but who else would be mad enough to join your motley band?" This was a good question but I didn't have to answer it. Paul stood up immediately and said, "I will!" James and Stuart shot him a glance, which clearly said you must be a brick short of a load, but without more ado the matter was settled. We cleared away the remains of our meal, washed up and prepared for bed.
Under canvas at last, Stuart turned on Paul and said, "Are you crazy? James and I weren't given the opportunity to back out, and you go and volunteer! Not only is your brother lusting for your blood but Richard seems to have a death wish. You know very well that simply BEING with the three of us spells trouble!" But Paul wasn't to be put down and responded, "But you guys always seem to have fun and I am fed up with being 'guarded' by Matthew!" It was James's turn to become involved: "Good heavens, so you thought we were having fun, spending most of our time staked out at the summer camp, without mentioning other things that happened! You really are mad!" Despite his serious tone I couldn't help catching the look in his eye in the lamplight. I could keep a straight face no longer and simply exploded in giggles. Stuart immediately jumped on me, pinning me down and I thought I was about to be bound once more but he reconsidered, and as I subsided he disappeared with James to wash under the nearby stand pipe. "Well, it does look as if you have got yourself into a lot of trouble Paul," I said, only half jokingly, "but who knows - we proved at the end of the summer that it isn't necessarily the strongest team physically who triumph". We gathered our things and followed our mates out to wash.
The nights were much colder now but we all changed into shorts and tee shirts. I was the proud possessor of a brand new sleeping bag and I didn't anticipate being cold. In choosing it I had also taken the precaution of ensuring it had a zipped opening - the three of us had been abducted during a previous camp by our mortal enemies and I had been trapped in my bag, unable to fight back because of the lack of an opening. We snuggled down, listening to the wind in the trees and laughing and talking about the day's events and what was to follow before we each drifted off into a dreamless sleep...
It was broad daylight when I awoke with that delightful, dozy feeling that one has when one can please oneself if one gets up or not. Paul was lying next to me. He appeared to be on his stomach and was still fast asleep. I must have laid there for several minutes, snug and cosy in my own bag before it dawned on me the other boy's hands, laying outside his covers were tied securely behind his back. Paul was blissfully unaware of his predicament, sleeping peacefully and I could just make out the tousled, fair mop that was all that was visible of Stuart.
I wondered if James was awake and turned over to check (he was lying on my other side). At least, I attempted to turn. I was still inside my sleeping bag and unable to move. In a moment I was fully conscious and at the same time I realised that my hands, like Paul's, were pinioned behind me. Furthermore it dawned on me my ankles were tied as well. With a great effort I managed to roll right over in my bag and was confronted by James with a grin on his face which seemed to stretch from ear to ear. "Hi, Richard," he chortled. "Sleep well did you?" He could see me struggling although I was enveloped in the folds of the sleeping bag but I had little doubt he knew all about my circumstances and how they arose. I managed to sit up at last, with difficulty, and said, "Come on James, this isn't funny. Untie me at once!" I doubt if my voice carried much conviction or sincerity, but in any case I wasn't being let off that easily. Our brief conversation had woken Stuart who sat up with a grin the equal of my other comrade. "Oh dear, our prisoner isn't giving problems, is he?" he asked James. "Not really," came the reply. "I have a feeling he isn't capable of making much trouble". With that he unzipped my bag enabling me to shake myself free from the cloth and at the same time revealing my bound hands. Both boys made facetious comments about the undesirability of going to bed with one's hands tied. It was obvious I was going to get no sense out of this pair and I collapsed back on my bed in sheer frustration.
Suddenly, Stuart realised Paul was still sleeping like a baby despite the noise and he proposed we (in retrospect, I don't think I was included in the 'we') should wake him. Before he could act on his idea, however, Mike and Matthew bounded into our tent. They burst out laughing when they saw me lying with my hands tied and then looked at Paul. "I told you he can sleep through anything!" said his brother. "Lets give him a pleasant surprise and wake him up gently". With that he crawled alongside the sleeping boy and began roughly shaking his shoulder. "Come on, get up Paul or you'll miss breakfast," he yelled as the younger boy finally gave a yawn and opened his eyes sleepily. He muttered about the time and began to curl up again, still blissfully unaware of his bonds, but that wasn't on our visitors' agenda. They continued to yell at him until at last he opened his eyes properly and tried to sit up. However, like me earlier, he was still not sufficiently aware of his surroundings and it was several moments before he took in the fact that his hands were tied behind his back. The realisation was electric. Suddenly, he was fully awake. He struggled into a sitting position and demanded to know who had done this to him. The other four buffoons just sat there and laughed like the dogs they were. At last, Matthew spoke. "Everyone knew about it. We planned it yesterday evening!" Paul glared at me and snarled that at least he had thought he could trust me! "Oh, when I said everyone I should have said 'all but Richard'. Take a look behind him." James thoughtfully put his hand on the back of my head and pushed me forward enabling Paul to see, for the first time, the cord securing my own hands. He gasped and looked apologetic. "Actually, Richard faired worse than you because his ankles are tied and yours aren't," Matthew went on (my feet were still hidden in the end of my sleeping bag). "Would you like to hear how we accomplished this excellent feat?" he quipped. It was quite clear that neither of us were going to be liberated any time soon and despite our bonds our curiosity got the better of us - we nodded our assent simultaneously.
Matthew began by telling Paul it was partly his own fault - that obviously nothing of the kind could possibly have happened to him if he hadn't been so head strong over his brother's attitude. Paul opened his mouth to reply but then thought better of it. I was inclined to point out that I didn't see why that should involve my being tied up too, but decided to hold my peace as well.
My own tent mates could vouch for my being a sound sleeper (this was the second time they had tied my hands while I slept) and Matthew told everyone that Paul would sleep through a full scale war without waking. By arranging to share a tent we had prepared a trap for ourselves. James and Stuart had deliberately remained awake as their victims dropped off and when they were sure we were well asleep, they had alerted the others at not far short of midnight. Peter, Matthew and Mike had actually carried out the deed. They had needed to turn Paul and roll his bag back to get at his arms but he never stirred. In my case they had found me lying on my stomach and it was a simple matter to unfasten my bag (the zipped bag I was so proud of because I thought it would protect me from any assault!) and cross my wrists behind my back. It also gave them the opportunity to reach my ankles while Paul was spared this indignity. They had been particularly careful with their lashings (their victims weren't putting up any resistance so they had all the time in the world!) as they wanted to be sure our hands would be very secure, but the lashings would not be over tight. As a final precaution, they had arranged a watch system with each of our mates sitting with us for an hour. As Stuart and James were sharing with us, they were given the last two hours, which was why James was already awake when I stirred.
Despite the mild discomfort resulting from sleeping in a slightly unusual position, I could only admire their audacity and had no hesitation in saying so. Then I suggested it was time they set us free. The four exchanged glances, and looked sheepish but it was left to Stuart to say, "Sorry, no can do. We agreed last night to keep you like that until breakfast, so the faster we get it under way the faster you will be free men again!" I looked at Paul and my eyes were held by his resigned expression, which seemed to say, "guess we will have to go along with these clowns!" I relaxed with a sigh and lay down again on my bound hands.
Mike and the others left, leaving James and Stuart to attend to the prisoners. James busied himself untying my ankles, for which I was truly grateful, while Stuart helped Paul struggle out of his sleeping bag. He then insisted that he must check on our bonds. He pushed Paul forward quite roughly, so that his head was on his bare knees, at the same time manipulating the boy's bound hands. The loud "Ow!" was ignored and Paul was allowed to sit up again as Stuart pronounced himself satisfied. Next he turned his attentions to me. He wasn't quite so rough this time and as his fingers worked over the knots holding the lashing on my wrists he asked me softly if I was OK. His concern rather amused me - he and the rest of my mates had no hesitation in tying me up while I was asleep so why worry now I was awake - but with a grin, I assured him I was fine. As he worked over my bonds I craned my neck round to try to see what he was doing and was amazed to see my wrists had been wrapped in what appeared to be an old sock. "Yeah," said Stuart when I asked him what it was for, "We thought it would give your arms some protection from the rope". "Oh, for heavens sake," I exclaimed, "You lot are going soft! If you go on like this you will be making me sit with a token cord round my hands and I will be told not to take it off! My arms are fine now, and it wouldn't be a proper game if I don't go home with a few bruises!" Stuart coloured slightly and reminded me of his promise to my mother, then he went on, "Think yourself lucky it was us who took care of you and not Matthew. Last night he insisted on tying his brother himself. We thought he might try to go easy on Paul but were we in for a surprise! We had to prevent him carrying out his wilder schemes and Mike himself insisted on checking Paul's hands to make sure they weren't too tight. I dread to think what you have got James and me into, taking Paul under your wing today, so you can look at this little adventure as pay-back in advance!" I giggled at Stuart's comments and Paul, who had been taking in every word answered, "Don't you worry about that lout. I'm going to sort him out big time!" Paul was a few months older than me, shorter but stockier. Nevertheless his bravado had us all laughing furiously while he sat with a serious expression wondering what the joke was! James and Stuart helped us to our feet and we were escorted from the tent to loud cheers from the other boys. We were ushered to the centre of the camp and invited to sit side by side on a couple of logs, which had been placed there for us. Everyone busied himself with breakfast and we sat there for some time, ignored by our friends.
At length, Paul said, "This is OK, really. Tied up like this we get out of chores. I think when breakfast is over I shall ask to be tied up again and that way I won't have to wash up!" He needn't have worried. Our captors had no intention of giving us our liberty any earlier than necessary and we were spoon-fed our cereals from a bowl followed by hot coffee. Paul didn't have to make his request - only when the clearing up was completed were we finally untied. Although neither of us had complained this was a relief. It was a chilly morning and while all our mates were, like us, in cotton gym shorts (our standard uniform for these occasions) they were all dressed in sweatshirts as protection against the chill while Paul and I only had our thin tee shirts which we had slept in. We dived for the tent, donned warmer shirts and pulled on socks and trainers and were ready for the fray...
Tuesday, January 29th 2002 - 11:39:10 PM
An Autumn Camp - Part 4
I have said earlier that Mike had planned a short hike that morning. He led us all out of the woods along a track leading along the coast for about 2 miles. We were mystified as to Mike's intentions but he quickly silenced speculation by explaining that he was taking us to the starting point for the "smugglers" (me and my three foolhardy companions). He had insisted we bring with us sandwiches and drinks for lunch so we were all carrying small packs.
The country proved to be ideal for our activities. Essentially deserted, it consisted of a mixture of rocky scrub with large patches of dense shrubbery interspersed with open woodland similar to the olive groves near our home. Some of the land was more open but here, there were rocky gullies and fissures, which would provide excellent cover for our activities. A road ran parallel to our course and about 400 yards from the coast (we were all familiar with this - it ran straight past our own woods). Mike set the road as a boundary for our game - the sea provided a natural boundary on the other side. Altogether, it seemed perfect for our game and Mike was heartily congratulated - we were all amazed that this strip of land had been ignored for so long and no one had considered extending our area of operations before.
We arrived at our destination - a small, secluded cove with a strip of sand, well hidden from view by a small cliff maybe 15 feet high which was easily negotiated. The foreshore sloped gently and the water was consequently shallow and therefore still remarkably warm and we all regretted not being equipped to swim. We gathered around Mike while he set out the rules for today's engagement, formulated the previous evening. The four "smugglers" would attempt to carry their contraband - he solemnly passed each of us four small packages, simply matchboxes wrapped in parcel paper - to their base. This would be one of our three patrol huts, which was situated on the further side of our "home woods". The other boys would attempt to "arrest" them and confiscate their contraband.
To be honest, winning one of these games was never a prime objective in itself - lets face it, we were all there with the intention of capturing a few of our friends before being made prisoner ourselves. For most of us, that was the great attraction so the scenario was merely "window dressing". Nevertheless, we always endeavoured to make it apparently possible for either team to be the victor, despite there frequently being a deliberate imbalance in teams, either numerically or physically. Today was no exception. Mike told his audience that "customs" would win if they succeeded in holding 50% of the smugglers prisoner at the time limit of 7.00pm. They would also have to recover 75% of the contraband. For our part, we would be deemed victorious if we could capture more than half of the "customs". Since there were twice as many of them we would probably have our work cut out.
As Mike finished his briefing, Matthew reminded everyone menacingly, "Naturally, if you are taken prisoner, we may use any means at our disposal to extract information regarding the whereabouts of your confederates. Don't expect any mercy!" As he uttered these words I saw him give his brother a malevolent glare, and I realised that Paul's presence was likely to cause us untold suffering!
Mike now turned to the four of us and said, "We are going to leave you here to have your lunch. We need to get back, have our own meal and deploy our forces. We will carry your packs back so you don't have anything to carry when you begin your assault". They began to gather their own equipment and move out when James suddenly exclaimed, "We have forgotten to bring any weapons or supplies with us!" We all looked glum but Mike turned round and said, "I nearly forgot!" He and Roger opened their own packs and handed us four water pistols (our usual weapons) and a large bundle of rope and cloth. "I doubt you'll need any of that but we can't have the opposition saying they were handicapped. Anyway, when we catch you we won't need to use up our own supplies! You should give us until 1.30pm before commencing your attack." With that he turned and led the other boys back on the trek home.
We now had about an hour and a half to relax, discuss the game in general and make our plans. Without more ado, we got down to the serious matter of eating our sandwiches, and when our initial hunger had been satisfied I said to Paul ruefully, "You really shouldn't have done this! Just being with us is bad news, but did you see the look your brother gave you before he left?" He shook his head - it appeared I was the only one to notice. "If Matthew catches you, you are for it big time. By association, I guess we will catch it too, but we are used to it. There's still time to change your mind you know!" Paul shook his head vigorously and exclaimed, "No way! Even if I wanted to back out, how do you think it would look to the others? Matthew is always stepping in to protect me. I'll not say I relish the prospect of being "tortured" unmercifully by that gang but I'd rather have that than be treated like a baby". He looked at me pointedly and added, "You are here, despite what happened to you at school, and as for the rest of you, you needn't think you can step into Matthews shoes!" I really had no answer. Matthew was really a kind and gentle boy who undoubtedly felt a big responsibility towards his brother. My own brother, Chris, usually behaved in much the same way towards me but this didn't stop him from launching attacks on me from time to time the ferocity of which would be appalling to outsiders. I feared Paul was heading for a debacle of his own making.
Stuart grinned and said, "Don't worry Paul. We are all in this together. We always accept what is handed out to us with out complaining so we will expect you to do the same! One more thing - the three of us have been in lots of scrapes together and we look out for one another. Despite our comments last night, you are one of us. If you decide by this evening that you would rather not be a party to our particular form of lunacy anymore we won't hold it against you, but you are part of our team today!" Paul looked a little embarrassed, but his grin told us he was really pleased to have been accepted by this crazy gang.
Now we got down to the serious business of considering our tactics. James was quick to point out two things that I had certainly missed. First, that there was no constraint on the way we operated either individually, or as one or more small groups. Second, we had each been given a small package - the contraband. These were very small and easily concealed. However, James's point was that at no time had Mike said we each had to carry one. If they were carried by one (or two) boys then, providing these individuals weren't captured, the odds in our favour were dramatically improved. We looked at James admiringly - the boy was a genius! Furthermore James suggested that if the contraband was to be carried to an agreed spot and then deposited, it would give an opportunity for reconnaissance without the risk of losing our precious goods. Since traditionally the losers would remain prisoners until bedtime, just keeping our packages out of the hands of the opposition could make all the difference. If any of us were captured while not in possession of the contraband, provided we could engineer our escape, we could recover the stash leaving the original carriers free to cover everyone's tracks. In reality, not much of a gameplan, you may rightly say, but to a bunch of twelve-year-olds it smacked of brilliance!
James and Stuart both felt that we would fair better individually and I was inclined to agree. Paul however looked crestfallen and I immediately found myself saying I would team up with him. Against my better judgement - I found myself thinking, "You have just agreed to share the same fate as him, unnecessarily!" James and Stuart would carry the packages as far as the woods, secreting them in the hideout we had established earlier in the year. They would then carry out a sweep and endeavour to link up with Paul and me for the final thrust. Neither boy said it, but it was quite clear both of them thought they would need to rescue us.
We felt certain that Mike's team would keep a couple of boys back to cover the approach to our destination, but they would still have at least six players in the field, looking for us. For much of the way there was plenty of cover in the form of trees and shrubs and in the more open territory we had noted several shallow gullies. Since there was much more country to cover it was likely they would operate singly, so we might have a reasonable chance of making some captures of our own!
Wednesday, January 30th 2002 - 07:25:54 AM
An Autumn Camp - Part 5
The start time arrived at last; we shared out the pistols, rope and cloths for gags, secreting them in pockets or about our persons and moved out quickly. Stuart and James each headed towards the sea - there was good cover in the form of dense shrubbery and Paul and I made our way a little inland. We had the disadvantage of a couple of hundred yards of open scrub but then were in the shelter of trees interspersed with bushes - ideal for our purpose and it was unlikely that Mike's team would have bent the rules so far as to be close to us by this time. By my reckoning we should have perhaps half an hour before we were likely to make contact with the enemy. Nevertheless, it was no reason for slap-dash methods and we crept forward slowly making full use of the cover.
Twenty minutes later we had reached the edge of the trees and were looking out on rocky scree. We would now have to progress by making use of the rocky gullies and occasional bushes for protection. We decided to take a short rest, have a drink and take stock before proceeding. As we lay there, Paul asked if I really thought he was in trouble if he was caught. "You better believe it, chum," I replied. I saw a little of his colour drain - evidently he had lost some of his earlier bravado. "Look, it's probably best not to think about it too much. You've been tied up before and that doesn't worry you and even with Matthew looking out for you, you have been subjected to the dreaded tickle torture! It might have been better if you hadn't wound him up quite so much, but what's done is done so you had better make the best of it. If it's any consolation, if we are caught together Matthew is unlikely to be any gentler with me than with you, and if we are lucky we might even capture him!" This thought hadn't occurred to Paul and he brightened considerably.
At last we decided it was time to move on and Paul rose to make his dash to the first ditch, but as he did so I caught a faint sound and grabbing his arm, hauled him back under the bushes. He made no sound, but looked enquiringly at me. I didn't answer but pointed off to the left, at the same time raising a finger to my lips. If I was right and there was someone close by, Mike had been devious in the deployment of his team - there was no way they could have got here from the woods in this time!
We hadn't long to wait. After a short pause Roger appeared followed by David. They were creeping along the edge of the trees, keeping well covered but clearly intending to cut off this approach. My two close friends and I prided ourselves on our ability to advance under cover in complete silence (we were scouts, after all!) but while these two boys were taking great care, they nevertheless could be heard a long distance away. I had to stifle a chuckle.
Placing my mouth close to Paul's ear, I whispered "First blood to us, I think". At the same time I silently withdrew my pistol from the elastic waistband of my shorts and watched as Paul did the same.
The two boys were evidently not carrying out a thorough search. They appeared more interested in finding a spot where they could remain hidden but have a good view of the terrain. If their search had been more thorough they would undoubtedly have spotted us but after a few minutes patient wait they strolled right past us. We crept from our hiding place and the first that either knew of our presence was when they felt the jet of water on the backs of their necks. They both spun round to find themselves face to face with our levelled pistols. "You two make enough noise for six boys together," I laughed. "Throw down your weapons and raise your hands". Our rules required surrender if shot with a water pistol and both boys complied, raising their hands above their heads and exchanging glances. Paul stepped forward and searched them briskly while I kept them covered. We were still standing on the edge of the trees so as soon as Paul had finished I ordered them to take the few steps into more satisfactory cover - I really didn't want to be observed at this stage. A few paces were sufficient, "OK, that's far enough, "I instructed. "What are you going to do with us?" David enquired. "Wait and see!" was my unequivocal response.
Actually, it was a good question. We certainly couldn't take them with us, even if we wanted to and much as I would have liked to subject them to a little tickle torture (especially David - I owed him for various indignities over the last few months) I doubted they would have any useful information. A quick glance around showed me what I wanted - two pine trees, each with a trunk about 12 inches or so in diameter. With my pistol, I motioned David towards one of the trees. He immediately realised his fate and groaned. With his hands still above his head I ordered him to back up to the tree. This he did, and while Paul kept both boys covered, I said, "OK, you can lower your hands now and put them behind your back". David grasped what was intended and reached his arms around the tree, though in a half-hearted manner. I stepped behind him and seizing his arms, pulled them rather roughly together crossing his wrists. At the same time I pulled out a length of rope and moments later I had tightly bound my prisoner's hands, leaving him virtually no movement at all. He struggled for a moment, ineffectually, and then stood still. Roger was dealt with similarly, being made to stand facing his confederate.
With our prisoners secure we could relax slightly. I searched them quickly, replacing the rope I had used with similar pieces from their own pockets and then we added a further binding to the two boys' elbows, pulling them as tightly as we could behind the trunks of the trees. We stood back and admired our work - they were going no place fast. Finally, I said, "I'm really sorry about this, guys, but we can't risk your attracting attention so I'm afraid we are going to have to gag you!" They can hardly have been surprised but they each protested mildly. This was quickly cut short however as Paul and I thrust a cloth between each boy's teeth and tied it off tightly behind their heads, leaving them cleave gagged. We had decided against stuffing a second cloth in their mouths as was our usual practice since they might have to wait a long time for rescue (I was satisfied they would not regain their freedom without help). I looked at Paul and said, "The odds have just got a whole lot better!" He laughed in response but Roger mmpppfhed behind his gag, looking angrily at us. I was quite clear where we stood if he regained his freedom and we fell into his clutches! No matter, we left them to brood and dream up schemes for our destruction. Conversation was out of the question and they would have precious little else to do for the rest of the afternoon, all being well.
We peered out again from the edge of the trees but all was quiet and Paul made the dash to a well-concealed gully (in reality, no more than a ditch) without drama. A few moments later I was alongside him. From this position of safety we surveyed the route we would need to take. On the hike in the morning I had spotted a long trench running across our path and which now lay maybe fifty yards away. After running to our right for some way it took a sharp turn and then led in our general direction for almost two hundred yards before petering out. Before it did this, it entered an area of dense shrubs and bushes, which would give us excellent cover and take us well on the way. The only difficulty would be getting across to the ditch. The ground was completely open and rocky, covered only in wild thyme and thorny, low growing shrubs. We would simply have to make a run for it and pray we weren't spotted. This time I led the way.
Concealed once more, I held my breath while Paul joined me but now we were jubilant - I could hardly believe our luck had held this far. After one more look around which confirmed that nothing was moving, we set out on all fours, following the trench until it was surrounded on all sides by the covering foliage. Here we relaxed and once more congratulated ourselves...
Wednesday, January 30th 2002 - 07:28:58 AM
An Autumn Camp - Part 6
Time to move on - we climbed out of the ditch into the nearest bushes but as we did so a silky voice said quietly, "One move and you are both dead! Place your pistols on the ground at your feet then put your hands behind your heads very slowly". It was impossible to tell where the voice was coming from and we looked at each other trying to decide what to do. I detected a gleam of fear in Paul's eyes but it was clear that resistance was useless (we had no target to shoot at in any case). I pulled my pistol from the waistband of my shorts and complied with the mystery voice's instructions. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Paul do the same.
The voice spoke again: "Now step away from the weapons to your left. Don't look round!" We did so and after 3 steps we were ordered to stop. We did so, remaining standing with our heads bowed and hands clasped behind our necks. "Now kneel down, side by side. Keep your hands where they are!" Feeling a little foolish I did as I was instructed and sensed rather than saw Paul do the same. As he squatted beside me, I leant across and whispered, "This is one fine mess you got us into Ollie!" Despite the tension, Paul couldn't help bursting into a fit of giggles but these were silenced by an imperious order not to talk. At the same time I heard a rustle of bushes behind us.
With our hands behind our heads it was impossible to turn and identify our captors but we were not kept in suspense for long - a moment later Andrew and Matthew appeared before us. This was my worst nightmare - the latter was grinning like the cat that got the cream. To say that Matthew was ecstatic would not be paying justice to the situation. He gloated over his brother, reminding him of all he had said the day before. I swear the poor boy was trembling as he knelt beside me although in reality he had a fair idea of what to expect and none of it was really new to him. It was simply that, in the past, Matthew had always been there to "get him off the hook" much earlier than the rest of us could reasonably expect. I came in for some attention too, as Matthew advised me of the wisdom of not getting involved with recidivists like his brother! It was obvious we were about to be tied up, and Matthew would ensure it was carried out with clinical precision. I was certain we would be unable to escape and he would go out of his way to make us as uncomfortable as possible.
The big question was whether we would be left where we were, or marched back to be held at their base. I suspected the latter. I was grateful that our captors could not possibly know of our own prisoners - it would be better to keep it that way - but would they torture us for information on Stuart and James when they discovered we hadn't got our packages?
Andrew was talking again, ordering us down on our stomachs and still refusing to allow us to move our hands. When at last he relented, it was to tell us to assume the familiar position with our hands behind our backs. I crossed my wrists and waited, but a moment later I felt my hands pulled gently but firmly apart and placed palm to palm. No time for thought - my captor pulled some of the rope from my pocket and moments later my hands were well and truly tied behind my back. I guessed they hadn't finished and sure enough a loop of rope was pulled up above my elbows, they were pulled together until they touched behind me, more loops followed and when the knots were finally tied off I lay quite still. Having a gymnast's flexibility it wasn't particularly painful, although uncomfortable but I knew it was futile to struggle - without outside assistance it was just not possible to get free.
I saw Paul receiving the same treatment alongside me. He let out a slight yelp as his arms were drawn behind him but otherwise remained silent and kept still when his bonds were complete. Gags followed but we were not allowed the luxury of a simple cleave gag - loosely folded rags were stuffed firmly into our mouths and then secured with a second cloth forced well back between our teeth. As Matthew was completing tying mine he said to Andrew conversationally, "Strange that we haven't seen or heard Roger and David. They were coming this way so our friends here would have had to pass them".
I remained completely passive but I was shocked to hear Paul utter a faint gasp. His gag had not yet been tied in place or perhaps it would have been stifled but I was sure our captors wouldn't miss it. Sure enough, Matthew whipped round, even as Andrew completed knotting the gag and exclaimed, "Are you two keeping something back?" There was an evil glint in his eye. I was not that easily intimidated and I remained silent and still, making no sign that I might have the least idea what was being hinted at, but we lived in an age of truthfulness. Paul had never lied in his life, certainly not to his family. "Economy with the truth" had yet to be invented. He made no reply but guilt fairly oozed out of every pore while he blushed to the very roots of his hair. We were lost!
Matthew was like a hound on the trail of a fox. "So what little secret would you rather keep from your big brother?" he asked Paul jovially. He might have saved his breath - Paul had recovered himself and made no indication of having understood and in any case, we had been so efficiently gagged that it was impossible for either of us to respond. Nevertheless, I knew that we would not be let off that lightly. Matthew was itching for an opportunity to show Paul what he had given up and I was caught in the crossfire. With a feeling of impending doom, I awaited developments anxiously.
Andrew and Matthew had moved away a few paces leaving us lying bound on the ground and sufficiently far that we could not hear their whispered conversation. When they returned we were hauled to our feet and pushed unceremoniously further into the shrubs. In a few moments we stumbled into a more open patch where a few trees were also growing, mainly young saplings but quite sturdy, tall and straight. Paul was shoved to the ground, face down once more, and ordered not to move - not desperately easy in any case with his elbows tied - and I was dragged towards one of the trees and forced to my knees, my back to the trunk.
A moment later I felt hands grasp my ankles, my feet were pulled backwards until my knees were either side of the small tree, and then, with my ankles crossed behind the trunk, I felt a lashing being applied to them. My trainers and socks were pulled off. Our captors had exchanged no words and the eerie silence was almost menacing. Now I was pushed forward and my arms and wrists were freed. I had no opportunity to struggle as my sweatshirt was pulled off, and naked apart from my shorts my arms were pulled above my head, wrists forced behind the tree, crossed and tied together as carefully as before. I had been tied like this before and knew I was powerless to avoid anything that might be done to me. In normal circumstances I was desperately ticklish - a fact well known to all my mates - but stretched as I was with my back arched like a bow and the bare skin taut on my skinny ribs I felt unbelievably vulnerable.
Our tormentors left me for the moment to deal with my buddy. He had been left lying facing away from me so until he was hauled to his feet he had no notion of how I had been trussed. When he saw me, a look of horror passed across his face and, despite his bound elbows he began to struggle. It was a waste of energy. A few minutes sufficed to see him stripped and trussed to another tree facing me, in exactly the same way. Without taking our gags off Matthew now asked us if we had anything to tell them. I was quite content to play this game to the end - I knew that one or other of us would crack fairly quickly but all the time these boys were toying with us there were fewer people out looking for Stuart and James. I shook my head vigorously. Paul's eyes were full of doubt - the way we were trussed was not very comfortable and it was a whole new experience for him - but after a moment he shook his head gamely.
Without more ado, Matthew launched his first attack. It took me completely by surprise - I had expected him to go for his brother but it was on me! First he ran a finger tip gently down my ribs, tracing a meandering path as far as my belly button before following upwards to my armpits. I was almost hysterical. I squirmed desperately to try to avoid the searching fingers, although in truth our bonds left us precious little room for movement of any sort. His assault lasted only a short time - probably less than two minutes - but at the end I was a wreck. Tears were streaming down my face and I was gasping for breath as I tried to control my giggling.
Turning to Paul, Matthew said, "So what do you think of it so far?" Without another word my friend was subjected to an assault of identical ferocity. When it stopped he was gasping for air while he writhed ineffectually in his bonds. No information had been discovered as we had remained securely gagged throughout but this was a clever ploy on our inquisitor's part. They were well aware we would be more than talkative soon enough. As Paul's gasping lessened I felt hands reach behind me and my mouth was once more free. Matthew did the same for his brother and we knelt there, hot sweaty and relieved to be able to breathe freely again.
Thursday, January 31st 2002 - 03:42:08 AM
An Autumn Camp - Part 7
Matthew looked at me and asked if I was prepared to tell them what they wanted to know. This was a poser - I wasn't certain what it was they were after. They had surmised that we knew something of their team-mates but without any corroborative evidence. On the other hand, we knew nothing of the whereabouts of Stuart and James and I doubted if they were interested, in any case. Another worrying thought passed through my mind - Matthew (and any of his buddies who happened to be around) was going to be one furious boy when he discovered we did not have our packages. Freedom for us would remain an illusion unless we were taken back to the woods and either Stuart or James managed to penetrate the enemy camp. This looked like being one long afternoon!
I made as if I was giving Matthew's question some serious thought and then, with a wicked grin, shook my head vigorously. I would put my trust in Paul to get us out of this. I must have been mad - Paul took his cue from me and shook his head too. "Oh my god, no!" I thought. "The boy wants to be a martyr!" Without putting our gags back the attack was renewed with as much vigour as before, this time with us suffering simultaneously. When at last the tickling stopped I was wet with perspiration and gasping for breath from laughing. I breathed a sigh of relief that I hadn't actually wet myself. I looked at Paul and he was no better off. His head was drooping, his face wet with tears and his hair hung down lank from the sweat. Clearly I would have to end this. Before either of our tormentors could speak I raised my head, begged them to stop and told them what they wanted to know. Paul looked up in shocked surprise - maybe he wasn't as ticklish as me! As soon as I had finished telling them about Roger and David, Andrew and Matthew dashed off to search for them, not even bothering to replace our gags, which left us with a few minutes to discuss our predicament. I tried to stretch to ease my aching arms and legs - it was useless. We had both been tied in such a way that we had no freedom of movement at all. Until our captors deigned to release us we would remain exactly as we were.
I looked at Paul and grinned - he was obviously attempting to do exactly the same and having the same amount of success. After a moment he spoke and said, "Our situation is going to be a whole lot worse when they find Andrew and Roger". Never was a truer word spoken - Roger certainly wasn't going to welcome us as long lost cousins after leaving him tied to a tree. With Matthew already on the warpath, we were in for a bad time! After asking him if he was all right and being assured that apart from his aching arms and legs he was fine, I asked Paul, "Why did you hold out so long?" He grinned, looked a little sheepish and replied, "I think I forgot to tell you, but I am not nearly as ticklish as you! Even so, that last attack really got me going. If you hadn't given in I couldn't have faced another session". I looked at the boy again and understood rather better than perhaps he had intended what he meant - with only a thin pair of cotton shorts on and arched backwards to his stake the bulge was obvious for all to see. I grinned inwardly but couldn't embarrass him by drawing attention to it. Instead I said, "As for me, a few moments longer and I would have wet myself! I think they will take us back to their base rather than leave us here" - Paul tried to stretch again to bring some relief to his limbs - "But you realise we are really for it when they find out we haven't got our packages?" Paul looked shocked, "Do you know, I had completely forgotten about them. Well, Matthew intends to make me suffer as much as possible for my rejecting him and there is nothing I can do about it now. I suggest we do all we can to keep these four occupied, which will give Stuart and James a better chance. If we are taken back to the woods and Stuart and James make it that far, they may even get an opportunity to set us free. In any case, all the time this lot have to look after us, there are only four of them out there to catch our mates and no one is better at moving over rough country secretly than those two!" All he said was true but further discussion was out of the question as we heard movements in the bushes and Andrew and Matthew reappeared, closely followed by our two erstwhile prisoners.
Roger and David congratulated our captors on the way they had trussed us up and then - horror of horrors - proceeded to search us. It didn't take long. Dressed only in our shorts they had minimal pockets to examine and in a moment realised we did not have the all-important packages (remember, they would need 75% of the contraband as well as several bodies to win!). It was clear that, if we had thought they were mad before we had seen nothing.
We listened to a short discussion, the result of which was that it was decided to take us back to the woods. Matthew and Andrew had clearly had some discussion on this topic before rescuing their buddies and the former made it clear that his brother had not yet paid his penance. He looked at Paul with a sickly grin and said, "We can't have you exhausting yourself so we are going to carry you." Paul looked a little blank but I felt myself shiver involuntarily - I had a premonition of what was to follow.
Sure enough, Andrew began to explain how I had been carried slung to a pole by my bound hands and feet, following my capture by my own brother during our last game in the summer (of the present company, Andrew was the only one present apart from the reluctant victim - me - and I wasn't given a say in the matter). Paul looked mystified by the explanation while I thought to myself, "You really don't want to find out about this!" Our mouths were still free but Paul made no comment. Instead, he glared truculently at his brother and I found myself thinking, not for the first time, "Boy, you really do know how to wind someone up. I guess you do deserve what's coming!" I shrugged my shoulders - no that's a lie; I would have liked to shrug my shoulders but given the way we were bound that was impossible - if Paul was determined upon self destruction the least I could do was bear it manfully without complaining, because it was quite clear I would be sharing his fate.
Matthew disappeared in the direction whence we had first been apprehended. When he returned he was carrying two small back packs and two staves (six-foot long ash poles about 1½ inches in diameter). The thought went through my mind that these lads were ready for any eventuality.
I now watched as the four boys set about freeing Paul's hands and saw him briefly stretch luxuriously. Alas, he wasn't given long to enjoy his freedom as David stepped forward and deftly bound his wrists in front of him, palm to palm. This done his ankles were freed briefly, he was dragged away from the tree, stretched out on the ground face down, his arms above his head, his ankles were retied and finally a rope was tied between his wrists and ankles, pulling the former behind his head and the latter well up behind his butt, and rolled over onto his side. Paul's eyes were blank - he still had no notion of what was about to happen.
Now it was my turn. My hands were untied and like Paul before me, I revelled in the brief moment of freedom, as my muscles were able to relax. Again, the moment was all too short, but to my surprise I was pushed forward and my hands were retied behind my back before my ankles were freed from the tree. Without any assistance from the others I sank forward thankfully, bending my knees as I lay full stretch on the ground and let out a deep sigh. At the same time, I was puzzled by my treatment and looked up into Matthew's grinning face. He must have understood my enquiring look because he said, "No need to carry you, Richard. You can walk!"
My mind raced. I was only too well aware of what Paul was about to experience (thankfully, he was still blissfully unaware). That I was being let off meant one of two things. First, that our captors were still anxious for me after my recent experiences or second, that by making me walk one of them would be released to join the search for our chums. It would take four to carry us both. For The benefit of Stuart and James, if for no other reason I couldn't let these guys get away with this. Furthermore, Paul had brought much of this down on his own head but we had all told him earlier we were in this together and I wasn't going to let him suffer on his own now. Finally, if the truth were known, I was fed up with being treated like an invalid too. I glared at Matthew and said, "If you think I am walking back with you, you can forget it" (Thank heaven our mouths were still free!).
Poor Matthew was completely devastated by my unexpected response. He almost whined, "but you've got to!" but this was met with a vigorous shaking of my head. Finally, he accepted the inevitable and told his colleagues to bind my ankles and then retie me as Paul was already. I let out a sigh and relaxed as the other boys reworked my bonds, all the while thinking "Well you can hardly blame Paul for the mess you're in now!"
Matthew had just one last card to play. He approached his younger brother, trussed on the floor, crouched down and said, "We don't need to do this, littl'un. You only have to apologise, you know". He could hardly have made a worse attempt at reconciliation. Paul raised his head and almost spat out the words, "Apologise to you? You must be out of your tree. I have nothing to apologise for!" Matthew turned away nonplussed - he had backed himself into a corner with his silly argument, although I still suspected his motives were not entirely altruistic but aimed at getting an extra team member back in the field. Paul on the other hand was clearly so headstrong that nothing would make him climb down - he was determined to accept anything that was done to him without a murmur.
Thursday, January 31st 2002 - 03:45:24 AM
An Autumn Camp - Part 8
Our captors finished retying me at last and stood up. Then Andrew and Matthew reached for a stave each. These were pushed between our tied wrists, then behind our heads, down our backs and finally between our ankles. That done we were released from the cord holding our hands and feet together - the pole at our backs would prevent us straightening our limbs significantly. If Paul was still in any doubt as to what was about to happen he wouldn't be kept in suspense much longer. Before our bearers lifted us Roger stopped them with a signal and said, "Don't you think we had better put their gags back?" The others concurred and strips of cloth were forced between our teeth and tied off in a simple cleave gag. No packing was used in our mouths, much to my relief. We lay there for a few moments longer and from the corner of my eye I saw Roger gather up our discarded shirts and socks and stuff them in one of the bags. I was reconciled to remaining stripped to my shorts for the rest of the afternoon but was grateful that we wouldn't have to return here later to search for our clothes.
At last, all was ready. I watched as Roger and David stooped down, grasped Paul's pole and lifted it gently but firmly off the ground. Moments later, they had the ends of the pole on their shoulders with Paul hanging face down between them, gently swinging from the pole, his head hanging between his elbows. It was all I could do to stifle a chuckle - his trainers had been tied together by their laces and were now dangling from the pole above my friend's arched back. I knew what to expect having been transported in this fashion before but I had to admire my fellow sufferer - despite not having been gagged particularly well he made not the faintest sound of complaint. Now it was my turn. I felt the pole lifted and moments later I was gently swinging from it between my two bearers, just as I had seen my friend a few seconds ago. I raised my head to look around and take stock of our situation but it was too uncomfortable. I let my head droop between my elbows despite the fact that it drew my gag uncomfortably tightly back into my mouth. I decided it wasn't important - there was no one here to hold an intellectually stimulating philosophical discussion with anyway. I saw nothing more of our journey save a few blades of grass and stony ground a few inches from my nose.
In truth, it wasn't desperately uncomfortable although I found my arms and legs aching somewhat as we progressed. The boys set a fast pace and, with a short rest during which our gags were removed and we were each given water from a bottle which was in one of their packs, they covered the remaining distance to the edge of our woods in about 20 minutes. Here we paused again, as they would need to negotiate a fairly steep and narrow path before the last couple of hundred yards. I was deposited on the ground although I was unable to straighten my limbs since the stave was not removed and all four boys manhandled Paul to the bottom. Then it was my turn. This was perhaps the worst part but it was soon over and a few minutes later we were deposited unceremoniously outside the opposition's base. The staves were removed, as were our gags and we were given a long and very welcome drink.
Immediately we had finished our hands were untied and quickly retied behind our backs - our captors were taking no chances, although our mouths were left free, at least for the moment. The four withdrew into the patrol hut, evidently for a council of war, leaving us alone for the moment. We were both sitting in the dust a few feet apart, our hands tied behind our backs as I have said. We did at least have a short while for an exchange of ideas. We eyed one another for a few moments - there was no point in trying to manoeuvre to attack each other's bonds - then I said with a chuckle, "Well big boy, how do you feel now?"
Paul looked rueful and then actually gave a soft laugh. "Not too bad. My wrists are a bit sore but otherwise I am fine. I never thought Matthew would do something like that but it was worth every penny, just to stand up to him for once!" he paused and looked a little shifty then added in an undertone, "Actually, it was awesome!"
"You're weird, you know that?" I replied. "We went through all that just so you could get even with your brother". I couldn't help glancing down - the bulge in my friend's shorts was still evident but there were other signs that he had enjoyed the journey more than he should.
Paul pouted slightly and said, "Well you didn't have to go through it - they would have let you walk!" "You too if you hadn't been so stubborn," I responded, "but there was no way I was going to let them subject you to that sort of treatment and then allow them to let me off. We're team mates remember!" "I think you must be as weird as me," Paul chuckled, "but look, we haven't got long. They are obviously not going to set us free and wish us a nice afternoon. We have managed to keep four of their team well and truly occupied for nearly two hours and it must be obvious who has the packages. If we are threatened with further torture, as seems likely, I suggest we tell them what they want to know straight away. It can't harm Stuart and James now and it might just mean we are left a little more comfortable than otherwise. Unless one of the others manages to stage a rescue, we are going to be tied up here for the rest of the afternoon. Neither of us has a chance of getting loose if Roger is doing the tying and that's when he's in a good mood!"
What Paul said made sense. We had no idea of where our two buddies had got to in any case so there was no point in holding back the little information we had. We relaxed and waited for the conference to end. The four finally emerged from the hut and approached us menacingly, "You don't have the packages Mike gave you and we need to know where they are. You are also going to tell us where your friends are". I had anticipated the heavy approach and smiled up at them engagingly. "Sure. Stuart and James took all the packages - find them and you may find the contraband! We really haven't seen the other two since the game started. Paul and I agreed to stay together but James and Stuart went off separately". Suddenly I realised I would have to tell a lie. "As we were the first to leave the cove we don't even know if they set out together or what direction they took".
Fortunately, they seemed to buy my tale. Our captors held a short whispered conversation together but before they finished we heard a rustle in the bushes and Mike appeared hot, sweaty and out of breath. He stopped short when he saw our bound forms on the ground and gave me a playful dig in the ribs with his toe. "Well, this is a pleasant surprise, meeting you two here". Without waiting for a response he turned to the others and said, "You can't guess how pleased I am to see you. The rest of us have scoured the plateau I don't know how many times and there is no trace of them anywhere". He paused, and then as an afterthought added, "Well there wasn't until I saw these two. We were beginning to worry about all of you, suspecting that these young terrors had pulled the wool over our eyes". Roger quickly explained how he and David had been caught by the two of us but then rescued, and went on to explain how they had carried us here. I saw Mike grimace at Roger's description. Although our mouths were free Paul and I had not been invited to partake in this discussion but, ignoring Paul, Mike knelt behind me and I felt him examining my bound wrists quite gently. Very softly, he said, "Are you alright, Titch?" I was rather taken aback by Mike's expression - it was a form of address I was used to receiving from Chris but not outside the family. I assured him I was fine and to stop worrying. I added that our captors had wanted me to walk but that I insisted on being treated in the same way as Paul. "OK, fair enough, but you are going to have some magnificent bruises in the morning". He went to rise but as he did so I said quietly, "There is just one thing". Mike immediately crouched down again full of concern. I struggled to turn round and face him, gave him my most winsome look (I was well equipped for this with large, round brown eyes and long lashes and regularly annoyed my family in this way) and added, "You don't feel like untying me, I suppose?" For a moment I saw him hesitate then suddenly he exploded with laughter. "You cheeky young devil. Even if I had felt inclined to before you can forget it now. If I have my way you can stay like that until tomorrow!" I lowered my eyes and almost regretted my joke. I had no way of knowing if Mike was serious. I just might have overplayed my hand.
As Mike stood up, Roger hit him with more bad news - the fact that neither of us had our packages. Mike pondered this announcement for what seemed like an age then said unexpectedly, "Well good for them! It wasn't quite what I had in mind when we set this up but they are certainly some way to outwitting us. You have to admit these kids really deserve to win. Still, the trophies haven't been awarded yet so we will have to re-double our efforts. Have you questioned these two as to the whereabouts of the others?"
Matthew replied, "I am certain they have no more idea than us".
"OK, then the best we can do is all get back out there and start searching. Get these two properly trussed up so that they can't get away and don't forget to gag them. I'll make a sweep through the woods while you are doing that and meet you on the high ground just on the edge of the wood". (He was referring to the place where we had been brought in). Roger and Matthew immediately checked the bindings on our wrists but pronounced themselves satisfied.
Meanwhile Andrew and David busied themselves with new gags, stuffing a cloth in our mouths and tying them securely in place with a second. No more chat for us. As they finished, Roger announced that he had an idea and told the others to untie Paul's ankles. This was quickly carried out and then, with the help of his friends Roger retied my fellow prisoner's feet in exactly the same way as Mike had yesterday, forcing his knees wide apart before crossing the boys ankles and binding them tightly with a diagonal lashing. As before, with his feet crossed and tied Paul was unable to straighten his legs (indeed he almost appeared to be doing the splits). Well satisfied, he placed a hand under the bound boy's shoulder and heaved. With no means of steadying himself with his hands or feet Paul rolled onto his stomach in a most undignified manner, his knees still spread and his feet now pointing in the air. But the older boy still wasn't satisfied. He asked for one of the staves and as Matthew and Andrew forced the prisoner's knees yet further apart he placed the pole across the back of Paul's knees and lashed it tightly above each of his knees. It was clear the youngster was unable to move and the projecting wood made it impossible for him to roll over. Finally, he pulled Paul's bound ankles up behind his butt and lashed them tightly to his wrists, completing the hog-tie. Roger's friends made admiring comments then set about doing exactly the same to me. When they had finished I was immobilised.
Thursday, January 31st 2002 - 07:30:58 AM
An Autumn Camp - Part 9
We heard the four of them depart for their meeting with Mike and started to wriggle like fury, trying to get close enough to one another to tackle our bonds. Fifteen minutes saw two small boys dripping with sweat from their exertions and grimed in dirt - we were of course still shirtless. The net result of our labours was to prove that the poles not only made it impossible to turn over; they also ensured we could not get close enough to one another even to touch each others bonds. With a deep sigh we simultaneously relaxed and accepted our fate.
We lay there in our grime for another half-hour during which time I thought I once heard some shouting in the distance. Then suddenly there was a rustle in the undergrowth and Stuart, as suave as always, appeared before us. As we strained to peer up at him he giggled and said, "My, but you lads do get yourselves into some unusual situations!" I tried to say to him, "Come on, don't mess about, get us untied quick before anyone else comes back," but naturally all I produced was a string of mmpppfhs, much to the delight of our friend. After releasing us both from the hog-tie he began to tackle my bound legs and ankles, leaving my gag and hands for later. As he did the same for Paul he said, "No time for the rest now, we need to get away before someone comes. I'll deal with your hands and gags when we are safe". He paused just long enough to help us into our trainers - of our shirts and socks there was no sign - then he helped us to our feet and led us away stealthily to where we had our old den.
We must have made a strange sight being led by our buddy, securely gagged and with our hands tied behind our backs. Our destination was of course no longer a secret since our last great battle but we would still be completely hidden from prying eyes and could defend it with a will if we had to. It was also the place we had agreed upon to deposit our packages of contraband prior to making the final dash through enemy lines - maybe we would find James already there.
On our arrival Stuart helped us crawl through the entrance and when we were finally seated in security he removed our gags. There was no sign of James. "Sorry about that," he apologised. "Actually I don't think there is anyone left in the woods but I didn't want to waste any time unnecessarily. I must say keeping you gagged has advantages too - no need to answer foolish questions!" he grinned at both of us as we stretched our jaws luxuriously. "Yes, very funny Stuart. Now hurry up and untie our hands," I demanded. Stuart looked at Paul and, with a grin, responded, "Your friend is insufferably impatient. I don't think it will do him any harm to wait awhile. Turn around and I'll free your hands," Paul naturally obeyed and within a few moments he was free at last. I was still fuming in the corner but Stuart was determined to play it to the end and, with my hands still tied behind my back I sat down and sulked. It is true I enjoyed being tied up (I was not the only one in the group) but even my best friends seemed to get an inordinate amount of amusement from seeing me in this situation.
At last he relented and stepping behind me I felt his fingers working at the multiple knots in the cords binding my wrists. At last I was free and I spent a few moments rubbing the circulation back into my sore arms. I had the makings of some fine bruises on my wrists but looking across at my pal engaged in the same activity I could see he would have a matching set. Without going into detail, we explained briefly what had happened to us, how we had captured Roger and David but had had to give them up under interrogation and how we had then been carried back to the base by Matthew and his cronies. Stuart sat wide-eyed through our brief tale. He and James had faired rather better. Contrary to what we had assumed they remained together.
James had already spotted a way down the low cliff, which ran all the way from the cove where we commenced our assault to the edge of the bay, which fronted our woods. At the foot of the cliff there was a narrow strip of sand and they followed this all the way back. Occasionally they had to clamber over rocks and more than once they had to wade through the sea but they had been out of sight the whole time. I had a suspicion Mike would be furious if he knew but clearly he had not checked out the terrain nearly carefully enough. Once they heard their pursuers' voices above them and they stood close against the rock face, which fortunately had a slight overhang at that point, until they were sure they were safe.
I interrupted Stuart's flow to say, "Mike was not a happy chap when he discovered we didn't have the packages, so where are they now?" I peered round expectantly. Stuart looked particularly shifty and replied, "Well two of them have been delivered and are safe. We decided to change the plan and left the second pair hidden on the beach. There are a couple of open fishing boats on the sand. To be honest, we were fairly sure we could get through without discovery, having found our way down the cliff but we were equally confident that you two would be captured. What you didn't know you couldn't give away under interrogation! James and I had just delivered the first two and were returning separately for the others when I found you strung up in the enemy camp. If James makes it back OK he will collect the third. That just leaves one and its Mission accomplished!"
We decided to set out at once. Stuart produced a couple of water pistols and led us off in a wide circle, initially away from our destination. Once out of the trees our progress was slower as we made use of every available piece of cover. We were perhaps a quarter of a mile from the spot Stuart would use to take us down onto the beach when we heard a commotion, still some distance away but drawing slowly closer. It was the enemy and what we could hear made it clear they had a prisoner. We dived for cover and in the short time available to us Stuart took charge. He looked at Paul and said, "OK littl'un. Now is your chance to prove yourself. You are going to have to get the stash and deliver it." Paul looked enquiringly at our friend. Without a word being spoken Stuart understood. "If Matthew catches you again he will stop at nothing to find out what you know," The younger boy's face actually lost a little of it's colour. "It sounds like there are too many to tackle at the moment but we will follow this bunch and hope for an opportunity to stage a rescue in due course". Provided with the necessary information to help him find the missing package, Paul disappeared silently into the thicket without any further questions.
Thursday, January 31st 2002 - 07:33:18 AM
An Autumn Camp - Part 10
We only had a few more moments to wait before four of our opponents appeared around a bend in the path. There was good cover here but they were not making use of it, rightly confident that there would be safety in numbers. They were well spread out and we knew immediately any attempt to take them here would be doomed to failure. In their midst was their prisoner. James had been stripped of his shirt and from his dishevelled appearance it was obvious he had already been interrogated. His hair was matted with sweat and dirt and sweat had run down his chest in little streams coagulating with the dust he had been laying in. Altogether, he was filthy. More distressing for him was the way he was now bound. His arms had been forced above his head and a stave placed behind his neck but in front of his elbows. These had then been tightly tied to the pole before his wrists had been pushed down and similarly bound to the stake. His head was bowed and he was clearly unable to straighten because of the pressure on the back of his neck. He looked most dejected. James was almost as skinny as me. With his arms pulled up unnaturally around his ears his ribs were protruding through the taut skin. He was gagged in the usual way.
We watched the group go past us without discovering our positions and when they were a safe distance in front proceeded to follow, making full use of the cover. We gave no thought to the rest of our foes. A sad mistake: had we done so and waited longer we might have noticed Mark and Robert silently following the main group and covering their retreat. As it was the first we knew was as the water hit our backs. Stuart was protected by his shirt - the cold blast on my bare skin made me jump with the shock. We whirled round but it was too late - we were face to face with two determined enemies, their weapons levelled at us while ours were still tucked in our shorts. We were instructed to raise our hands and as we did so Mark took out a whistle and gave a long blast on it. Then we were ordered to turn round and start walking.
We did as we were ordered and a few moments later came upon the main group who had been hidden from view by a few bushes. The whistle had clearly been a signal to the other party. James had been made to kneel and David was busy tying his ankles. They were clearly taking no chances with their prisoner. As we turned the corner all eyes seemed to be focused on me. That I had been set free was obvious. Also obvious to all was who had been the perpetrator of this nefarious deed - he was a couple of paces in front of me, his hands raised incongruously above his head and looking much less suave than normal. Bound as he was James was unable to turn his head to see the cause of the commotion but he wasn't kept in suspense for long. We each received a prod in the back from our captors and stumbled forward until we stood at the front of the group. James looked up at us as best he could with his head bowed, his eyes showing signs of desperation. Now his ankles were tied he was clearly concentrating for all he was worth on keeping his balance.
Mark quickly explained that they had caught us tracking the main group and Mike turned on us gleefully and said, "I'm really disappointed with you Richard. After we offered you our hospitality you go and run out on us! I see you have collected a new friend - what have you done with your other little chum?" I had no intention of replying but Matthew muttered under his breath, "Probably realised the little twerp was ruining their chances and left him where he was!"
My colour began to rise but fortunately before I could make a rash comment Mike continued, "Well I don't think that is very gallant but not to worry. You are really lucky we have found you. Now you can enjoy the hospitality you spurned earlier. Kneel down, both of you!" We had no choice but to obey as a pair of hands was placed heavily on each of our shoulders and we were pushed forwards onto our knees facing our bound comrade. As we did so I relaxed and began to lower my raised hands but reconsidered when Mike snapped, "No one gave you permission to lower your arms. Keep them where they are!" Feeling a little foolish I obeyed.
The next moment, I felt someone grasp my wrists, pulling them backwards, while more hands pushed my head forward and down. Seconds later a stave had been pushed down across my neck, forcing my elbows back and keeping my head forward. The thought went through my mind that the opposition had come well equipped. I knew what would follow and didn't have to wait. Before I could catch my breath my arms were being tightly lashed to the stave above my elbows. Hands then grasped my wrists, pulling them down to the pole and, in a position just behind my neck they were similarly lashed leaving me immobile. Worse than that, my wrists were tied separately and it was impossible to reach the rope with my fingers; escape without outside assistance would not be feasible. It was now difficult to turn my head but out of the corner of my eye I saw Stuart struggling as his shirt was removed. Resistance was of course useless and a few moments later three small boys were left tightly bound and stripped to their shorts. Finally, Roger stepped forward, stuffed a wadded cloth in each of our mouths and completed our gags by securing a second cloth between our teeth. We were helpless.
Mike stood and admired his handiwork for a few moments before saying, "We will need to have a chat with you two but that can wait until we are back at our base". With that James gave us both a big wink. It was so incongruous that I exploded in giggles behind my gag, which seemed to irritate our captors. James's ankles were freed, we were hauled to our feet and soon we were being marched quite openly along the path that led back to the woods. Our progress was not helped by the six-foot long poles we had been trussed with. Periodically they would snag in the branches of bushes or trees causing us to stumble and in places we had to progress sideways, assisted by our captors.
The way we had been trussed was anything but comfortable but our slow progress left plenty of time for thought. I didn't believe that even Matthew would seriously think for one moment that we had abandoned Paul so they must now be wondering where he was. Presumably they had decided he was not worth troubling over at this stage and in any case we had seen no sign of Peter and Andrew. We had not been searched for contraband and it was obvious James had already been interrogated. Was he in possession of a package when he was caught and what else had he given away? Where was Paul now? If he succeeded in getting home with a package would he still be able to turn his freedom to our advantage?
I revolved these and many similar thoughts through my mind until at last we stumbled into the old, familiar clearing. We were made to kneel in a semi-circle half facing one another and our ankles were promptly tied, just as James's had been earlier. I had hoped we would be made slightly more comfortable but Mike must have realised our distress - trussed like this we were ideally placed for an intensive interrogation session! We were at least relieved of our gags and I heard deep sighs of relief from my two pals. Water bottles were also produced and my eyes lit up.
Suddenly I realised we couldn't drink tied like this and Mike and Company were in no rush to change things. "I expect you would all like a drink," he said in a kindly tone. Incongruously we all tried to nod our heads, which was impossible - our mouths were free and a simple "Yes" would have sufficed! Our captor went on, "Well, we all want to make you as comfortable as possible and so, as soon as you have answered a few simple questions we will tie you up a little more comfortably and give you a drink". He sounded so kind and gentle - much like an old and revered uncle but we all had a fair idea of the information he wanted. He put his hand in his pocket and pulled out - a package! James clearly knew he had this - it had in fact been taken from our friend earlier, when he was captured - but both Stuart and I were wide eyed.
Mike eyed us curiously and said, "We would like to know where the others are. Your friend here has told us one story but we would like to hear what you have to say". Without more ado he waved his hand in the direction of Stuart and James and said, "Gag these two!" His orders were carried out promptly and diligently. My heart quailed - I was evidently to receive "the treatment" first. He looked at Matthew and said lightly, "he's all yours" and walked away to where I could not see him. I sensed rather than saw the other boy approach and the attack was launched directly. Matthew had already shown himself to be the master of tickle torture and this time I had no chance. Within seconds I was giggling helplessly while tears rolled down my cheeks. My efforts to avoid the searching fingers were sorely hampered by my need to keep my balance - not an easy task with my hands and arms effectively lashed above my head and rendered useless. If I fell I would never be able to get up unassisted (although in reality I doubt if the lads would have let this happen). Two minutes and I was pleading for him to stop...
Friday, February 1st 2002 - 03:54:23 AM
An Autumn Camp - Part 11
Believing they would now hear what they wanted Matthew withdrew, leaving me gasping for air. Mike and Roger stood before me as I managed to catch my breath but before they could say anything I began the tale of how, when we had split up in the early afternoon James and Stuart had taken all the packages, that Paul and I had not seen either of them until we were rescued by Stuart and that I had no idea of the whereabouts of the contraband now.
As I spoke I watched James become more and more agitated. He was making weird facial expressions at me made more grotesque by his gag and he seemed to be whimpering into it. He tried to shake his head but it clearly caused so much discomfort that he gave it up. We had of course been given no opportunity for discussion after our capture, even while all our mouths had been free briefly. That James had already been interrogated when we first saw him under escort had been obvious, but Stuart and I had no way of knowing what he had told his captors. They had pre-empted any opportunity for collusion on our part by making sure James and Stuart were securely gagged before my interrogation began. Now I was about to hear James's tale.
Mike laughed out loud, "Really young feller, you ought to do better than that. You sold my chums that cock and bull tale earlier today and we have wasted the whole afternoon on a wild goose chase. Your skinny pal," - he nodded in a friendly manner in James's direction - "has told us this is not true. He insists you all took your own. We have his here," - he held out the small parcel - "and I feel sure your blonde friend will tell us he successfully delivered his. What we need to know is what you and Paul did with yours so we can recover them and claim our rightful victory".
My mind raced. My first thought was why James had told them this outrageous fiction but in a moment I realised that by doing so he must have kept the hiding place secret. He must have been very convincing, probably aided by Matthew seeing a further opportunity to get at his brother for the apparent lie we had told him earlier. They would probably not have wanted to waste too much time on James there and then, preferring to interrogate him more thoroughly once they had him back at base. After a long, uncomfortable march James would be more vulnerable to their questioning methods. He knew this but would also know he had bought a considerable amount of time for the rest of the team. Our subsequent capture would have helped - Mike's team would be eager to question their new acquisitions without bothering to determine the veracity of James's story. None of this was going to help me now. James and Stuart were both gagged and I had no way of knowing precisely what James had said. All I could do was stick to my story. Matthew was recalled and after only a few minutes I was pleading for him to stop - much more and I knew I would wet myself. As my giggles subsided and I caught my breath I looked up at Mike as far as I was able, turning my big brown eyes on him and positively snivelled that I was telling the truth.
"The look" had it's effect - even Mike couldn't help bursting into giggles. Then he said, "Very well, but in that case it appears someone else is lying." He looked sinisterly at James. "Perhaps we had better see what your other mate has to say". With that Roger stepped forward with my gag. I was so used to it by now that I simply stretched my jaws wide while he prodded the cloth into my mouth with his fingers, then stepping behind me, began tying the second one tightly at the back of my neck after inserting it between my teeth. As I felt the knot drawn tight to complete it Mike said, "On second thoughts, leave his mouth free. It might be interesting to hear what these two have to say to each other". I felt the knot being teased free and moments later fingers were groping in my mouth before pulling the gag out once more.
Meanwhile, Stuart's had also been taken off. They didn't waste time on questions. Matthew simply began his tickling straight away. Over the past months Stuart had been remarkably fortunate. While being captured from time to time he had almost invariably escaped the joys of interrogation so the ferocity of Matthew's attack took him completely off his guard. I knew he was less ticklish than me but in moments he was giggling frantically while trying to move to escape the probing fingers. Like me he found this impossible because of the need to concentrate on his balance. It took less than four minutes before he pleaded with them to stop. Matthew stepped aside and Mike asked, "I suppose you would like to tell us something?" "Yes," Stuart gasped. He got no further. There was a rustling in the bushes facing us three prisoners. Mike turned round in time to see a white handkerchief tied to a stick being poked out of the foliage. A few seconds later this was followed by Paul. We heard a gasp from our group of captors but, unable to raise our eyes, were unable to see our Mate's expression as he stepped forward into the clearing. "I think it is time to negotiate," Paul began. "As you are holding the rest of my team I guess I shall have to take care of it for our side!" Stuart was most indignant, "We are just as capable of joining in a discussion as you are," he exploded. "I hardly think so," came Paul's rejoinder. He looked at Mike and said, "He's your prisoner. Can't you keep him quiet?" I could hear the amused tone in his voice but, indignant for my bound friend I couldn't help interrupting with, "That's hardly a fair way to treat a buddy who set you free earlier!" "Better silence that one too," Paul chuckled but it was unnecessary. Robert and David were already putting our gags back as tightly as ever. Paul would have his way - he was certainly the only one in a position to negotiate now. He strolled nonchalantly into the middle of the clearing although his attempt to swagger somehow didn't quite come off - it is difficult to look suave and sophisticated in nothing but a pair of droopy cotton gym shorts!
Mike viewed him suspiciously and said, "OK, lets hear what you have to say." After a short pause Paul replied, "The situation as I see it is like this. You are holding these three clowns prisoner and I guess you have one of the packages. The other three have been safely delivered and are therefore beyond your reach. Additionally, I am pleased to be able to tell you I am holding Peter and Andrew hostage". I heard several gasps from our captors - that Paul had succeeded in capturing Peter single-handed was almost beyond belief. That he had caught Andrew as well would really be the icing on the cake. It would take Peter an age to live this down! "Under the terms Mike laid down this morning victory for you is clearly unobtainable. On the other hand, it seems to me a pointless exercise to keep on the run for the next hour and a half until the time limit is reached. I need hardly say that your mates are less than comfortable and don't think for one moment they will be able to escape. You would have to waste your time looking for them and who knows, while you are doing that some more of you might have to join them!" I couldn't see his face but I could sense the wide grin on his face. "I suggest we work out some sort of draw".
Up to this point I had felt incredible relief from Paul's appearance. Now, a sudden chill ran through me, shared as it was revealed afterwards by both my fellow prisoners. Under our rules the captives of the victorious side got to hang on to their "trophies", usually for at least an hour after the game. This would mean they remained bound with no thought given to their comfort. I had the thought that Paul was about to negotiate away our freedom and he had craftily made sure none of us were able to protest. Paul continued, "My suggestion is that one member of each team is selected as a 'hostage to victory' thus enabling the remainder to be liberated."
"And just who would you choose for this enviable role?" Matthew asked suspiciously, "and I suppose you don't intend to include yourself as part of the victory spoils?" "I think you know very well who I would choose, Matthew," his younger brother replied acerbically, "but I'm not that vindictive. My proposal is that, if my armistice terms are accepted, each team should choose it's own player to be held hostage. The only proviso is that one person from each side must accept the penalty".
Our captors whispered amongst themselves for a few minutes then Mike spoke for the group. "Your idea certainly appeals to us although we shall require evidence that you are holding our team mates. We need to make one more condition however - we haven't quite finished with your mates here," he gestured at my hapless friends and me and then spoke in a whisper to Paul. Suddenly the latter burst into fits of laughter and said he would agree to that...
Friday, February 1st 2002 - 03:55:56 AM
An Autumn Camp - Conclusion
Mike held a whispered conversation with Robert and David and then in a louder tone told them to get our stoves lit so that supper could be got underway as soon as all the arrangements had been made. They disappeared towards the tents while Paul led everyone else off in the opposite direction leaving us to meditate alone. When they returned they were accompanied by Peter and Andrew but I was gratified to see that, like us they were gagged and shirtless. Paul had bound their wrists and elbows tightly behind their backs. They had clearly had explained to them the terms of Paul's armistice and they put up no resistance as they were made to kneel facing us three and had their ankles tied. They were spared the indignity of the stave behind their necks but once their feet had been secured, Paul added a further cord tightly between wrists and ankles placing them in a "vertical hog-tie". Both boys were forced to arch their backs as Paul worked the lashing so tight that their hands were touching their feet. With their elbows tightly bound this looked most uncomfortable.
I was now worried as to what Mike's final surprise was. Were Peter and Andrew to share the same fate? We were certainly not going to learn the answer to that question yet as a boy stepped behind each of us and tightly blindfolded us. Mike now began speaking, "In a few moments we are going to retie you more comfortably until you have made your choice in accordance with Paul's suggestion. I expect you are chilly too, so we will give you your shirts back." I breathed a sigh of relief - during the day it had not been unpleasant and our activity had kept us warm. Now, dusk was falling and with it a chill had set in that was making me shiver. "Before we do that however we really need to clean you up a little. You really are filthy little villains and an absolute disgrace!"
Before I had absorbed his words we were doused with cold water, not straight from a bucket but rubbed into our hair and chests with large natural sponges. The shock took my breath away but even as our tormentors stood and laughed at our distress we were surprised to have the treatment repeated, this time with hot water. We were systematically scrubbed clean - James and I certainly needed it - and after the initial cold shock it was actually quite pleasant. Then our blindfolds and gags were removed at last. Peter and Andrew had not shared in this last adventure but none of us made any protest as our captors towelled us dry. Finally Mike said, "We just couldn't resist it! You really were filthy and I knew we couldn't trust you young heathens to wash properly. Are we forgiven?" We all three nodded our assent. Mike went on, "OK, you heard the deal. You have to remain prisoners while you decide with Paul who is to be held, but we are going to untie you now so you can put your sweatshirts on. Then all five of you will have your hands tied behind your backs until the hostages have been decided upon. After that, most of you will be liberated. The two remaining hostages will remain bound until supper".
While he was speaking I could see Roger telling Peter and Andrew the same. Moments later our arms and hands were being untied. As the stave was removed I stretched my neck carefully but with intense pleasure. My arms ached, but compared with the pleasure of being able to stand upright again this was as nothing. Our clothes were returned to us and without even waiting for our ankles to be freed we eagerly pulled our jumpers on, even Paul! With our feet untied at last we all stood, stretching our aching limbs and enjoying the freedom, however transient. We were given a few minutes to relax and actually approached our erstwhile enemies (Peter and Andrew) to commiserate with one another. We giggled together over Paul's unusual resolution of the game, even though James, Stuart and I knew that for one of us the suffering wasn't over. Peter and Andrew at least had a fighting chance of persuading one of their mates to take their place!
At last Mike indicated that our time was up. We had been expecting it and, without a murmur of protest all five of us lined up and dutifully placed our hands behind our backs. Robert and David started from opposite ends of the line and, in a few moments we were all bound prisoners once more. They had shown no favours to anyone - we had all been securely tied and none of us would get loose without help. Paul now led the three of us away to our tents while Andrew and Peter were surrounded by the opposition. It certainly felt strange to be led away by our mate and I am sure that our two former adversaries felt much the same.
We all crowded into one tent and sat down. Stuart turned to Paul and said, "I suppose we do have to stay trussed like this, do we?" Paul immediately replied, "I'm afraid so. The deal was you would all remain tied up until the hostages had been sorted out. Only then can most of you be set free. I am trusting Mike's team to do the same with Peter and Andrew so we must keep our side of the bargain". Stuart accepted his fate without more ado, wriggling to make himself comfortable with his bound hands. He seemed a little embarrassed by James and my seemingly fatalistic acceptance of our situation, but in fairness to our friend it does have to be said that we were so used to being tied up for long periods it made little difference to either of us.
A short debate followed during which Paul offered to take our places. I vehemently opposed this suggestion reminding him of what his brother might be capable of. Clearly Matthew wouldn't be volunteering in the same way! Next I offered the same sacrifice but this was shouted down by all three of my companions who reminded me I had collected quite enough battle scars to last a lifetime. I had had the opportunity to view my bruised wrists during our brief moment of freedom (actually no different from Paul's) and ruefully accepted the majority view. Finally Stuart broke the silence and said it had better be him. Before anyone could interrupt him he pointed out that he had spent less time than any of us tied up that afternoon and had escaped all but a few minutes of torture. "All in all, I think I owe it to all of you!" he grinned.
"Good heavens, you are becoming as big a perve as Richard," James laughed. Stuart bowed his head to try to hide his blushes and insisted he would just as soon not be tied up at all but he was adamant that it should be him and so it was decided.
Paul helped each of us to our feet and we rejoined the larger group. Peter and Andrew were seated in their midst and I was gratified to see their hands were still tied behind their backs too. We announced that Stuart would pay the penalty on our behalf and Mike announced their chosen one - Matthew! The latter smiled shyly at his younger brother and said, "I thought you might try to sacrifice yourself for your mates and didn't want you to be able to accuse me of treating you any worse than I might have done someone else. I think perhaps you have suffered enough today and I'm sorry for the way I treated you."
"That's alright Matthew," Paul replied. "I did volunteer but the others turned me down because they were afraid of what you might do to me! Don't worry about earlier - I deserved everything that happened to me but I think it was a little tough on Richard who got it too!" It was the work of moments to decide to truss the hostages as Paul and I had been much earlier when first captured. On the edge of the clearing that constituted our campsite were two saplings ideal for our purposes and the two victims were led to these and made to kneel with their backs to the thin, straight trunks. Crossing their ankles behind the trees they were quickly lashed together. Gags were added - we didn't want our hostages moaning about aching arms and legs - and then their arms were freed from behind their backs. Both boys were made to remove their sweatshirts - they were not going to be subjected to any torture but we all agreed they could endure the discomfort of the cold for the hour or so they were likely to be tied up. Finally, their wrists were pulled above their heads and back behind the tree trunk, crossed and tightly bound. As their bonds were completed both boys relaxed as far as they were able but this method of securing them left them no freedom of movement with their backs arched and their arms drawn upwards and backwards. Finally, our friends turned to we four who remained standing with our hands tied behind our backs. At last we were set free and were able to massage some feeling back into our arms.
Even as Stuart and Matthew were being tied up some of the boys had begun to prepare supper. The stoves had already been lit to warm the water Mike had used to clean us up with earlier so an hour later we were ready to eat. The two remaining prisoners were set free and amidst much hilarity we were all eating hot stew.
The cleaning up finished, everyone was ready for bed. For awhile we talked and laughed about our experiences, hearing for the first time how Paul had surprised Peter and Andrew with well aimed pistol shots and then forced the latter to tie his pal's hands and ankles before being trussed by Paul himself. When he called his truce he had left the two boys hog-tied, their hands and elbows tied behind them and of course securely gagged. They had no chance of escape. At last we were exhausted by our yarns and one by one fell into a contented, dreamless sleep. No one suffered an unexpected attack that night.
In the morning, breakfast complete, we began the task of clearing our campsite. Every boy worked diligently and by late morning tents were cleared and bags were packed ready for collection by our helpful parents. I said good-bye to Paul - we all agreed he qualified as a full member of our select band of lunatics - and set out on the walk home with the mates I had arrived with. We all had school tasks to complete during the remainder of the short holiday and this would be the last of our battles until the weather began to improve in the Spring but already we were plotting what we would do (and who we would do it to!) next time...
Richard UK's stories
- 01 - Evasion in the Woods (m+/m+)
- 02 - Summer Camp Adventure (m+/mmm)
- 03 - More Tales from the Woods (m+/mm, m/m)
- 04 - The Last War Of Summer (m+/m+)
- 05 - A Bad Day at School (m+f+/m, m+/m+)
- 06 - A Surprise for Christmas (m/m)
- 07 - An Autumn Camp (m+/m+)
- 08 - A Devious Scheme (m+/m)
- 09 - In The Beginning (m+/m+, m+/m)
- 10 - The New Guys (m+/m+)
Index of all stories in the "Archive for Everyone" section