Iron Girders and Steel Springsbymanyeyedhydra©
Marshall O'Neil waved down the minibus as it pulled into the quiet car park next to the picturesque little railway station. It was the first vehicle he'd seen since getting off the train ten minutes ago. First people, even. Altnabreac was a real out-of-the-way place. Marshall had been the only passenger left on the train and there was no one else about when he'd stepped out onto the platform and then followed the exit signs to this empty little car park.
"Are you heading up to Gàrradh-Sionnach?" he asked the driver.
"Och aye," the driver replied. "Are you O'Neil?"
"Yes," Marshall nodded in reply.
"I was told to expect you here," the driver said. "Welcome to bonnie Scotland."
He got out and helped Marshall place his heavy rucksack with the other luggage piled up on the front row of seats. Marshall saw the man was wearing a kilt and a real honest-to-god Tam o'Shanter. It was traditional, Marshall supposed, but it was about as expected as seeing gentlemen walking around London in top hat and tails.
"Don't mind the getup," the driver said with a fox-like grin. "It's for the Yanks. All they know about Scotland is Groundskeeper Willie from The Simpsons."
Marshall thought the driver meant the cluster of men sitting up in the back of the bus, but then he heard them speak and realised they had to be Londoners from their accents. There were five of them. They were dressed in expensive suits and spoke in loud, braying tones.
There was a sixth man, but he didn't appear to be a member of their party. He was skinny, wore spectacles and his face had a pinched look to it with thin, almost bloodless lips. He was dressed casually, but expensively. He sat on the other side of the bus and looked as though he didn't want to have anything to do with the other men. He was an American, Marshall learned later, an IT Systems Analyst all the way over from Washington State.
"That's the last pickup," the bus driver called out as he climbed back into his seat. "Next stop Gàrradh-Sionnach."
The men in suits whooped. They sounded glad to be free of the confines of their city jobs. Marshall took the open seat in front of the thin man.
"Have you visited Gàrradh-Sionnach before?" Marshall asked one of the Londoners, a chubby man with a wide face and thick lips. He looked the eldest of the group.
"Nah, first time," he replied. "You?"
"Nope, first time too," Marshall replied. "I'm Marshall." He offered his hand.
"Tom," the man replied. "Tom Figg. Where you from, Marshall? Manchester?"
"Not far," Marshall replied "Altrincham."
"We all work in the Square Mile," Figg said, nodding back to his companions. They were comparing pictures on iPads and laughing loudly. "So what is it, City or United?" he asked. "Would have to be City. No one within half an hour's drive of Manchester city centre supports the scum."
"Sale Sharks," Marshall said with a smile.
"Oh, a rugger bugger," Figg said. "I played a bit at university. Prop," he added. "Buggered up my shoulder." He rotated his left shoulder and grimaced.
"Lock," Marshall said. "I've lost a bit of weight since then," he added at Figg's surprised expression.
"A bit," Figg laughed. "A winger'd bring you down with a tap now, and they're all girls. What do you do in Altrincham then, Marshall?"
"Firefighter," Marshall replied. "Okay, former firefighter. I sit behind a desk and do the paperwork nowadays. Occasionally they let me out to teach safety classes to the local kids."
"Firefighter," Figg said, his eyes twinkling. "Hey, we've got a proper public servant here."
The other city types gave a loud boozy cheer.
"We're all parasites, if you believe the newspapers and BBC," Figg said with a sour expression. "Bankers," he elaborated.
"Fucking fat filthy-stinking-rich parasites," one of the group said with a laugh.
"They're happy enough to spend our taxes," Figg said. "I don't hear them complain about our money when they're pissing half of it up the wall in the public sector...
"Not you," Figg hastily amended. "You've got a proper job. I don't mind paying out for the boys in the fire service, and the boys in blue, and the boys out in the Middle East, and the doctors and nurses. It's the other bollocks I can't stand. Bereavement councillors for depressed lesbians, million-pound mansions so's fat breeders can have room to pop out another sprog or ten, fuck that shit.
"Not you. You boys are all right by us. Although I am a little worried where my hard-earned cash is going if a public sector bloke can afford to come up to Gàrradh-Sionnach," Figg chuckled.
"Afford?" Marshall wasn't sure what he meant.
"Gàrradh-Sionnach isn't cheap," Figg said. "But you must know that."
"No," Marshall said, "my therapist arranged it all. Said it would help me out."
Figg looked stunned. "Therapist? Blimey, he's an open-minded chappie."
"She," Marshall corrected. "And yeah, I know, she has some very strange ideas. Seems to know her stuff though."
"Wait, she arranged for you to come up here to Gàrradh-Sionnach?"
"Yes," Marshall replied. "I've got some self-confidence problems with my body image. She thought it would do me some good to spend a few days in the company of nudists."
* * * *
Marshall gripped the bottom of his pullover. All he had to do was lift it up.
He willed his hands to lift up his top and reveal his naked flesh underneath. They didn't move.
Come on. Easy.
His therapist, Ms Inari Kitson, watched him dispassionately. It didn't help she was a fine-looking woman, an absolute fox. She could have been a model back in her youth, still could. She had an elegant, almost aristocratic face with high, finely-defined cheekbones. Long silky-smooth platinum-blonde hair flowed down onto her shoulders. She seemed neither embarrassed nor conceited about her beauty. It just was.
Marshall wished he could be so unconcerned about his appearance.
He took his hands away from the bottom of his pullover and looked down at the floor.
"Oh dear," Inari said. "I see the problem. I think what we need to do is place you in an environment where nakedness is more natural. Mmm, leave it with me."
* * * *
"Hang about," Figg said. "You do know what Gàrradh-Sionnach is, right?"
"Yes," Marshall said, puzzled by where the conversation was heading. "It's a nudist resort, located up in a remote part of Scotland."
Figg looked at Marshall with an incredulous expression on his face. His face cracked up. He started to splutter with laughter. The laughter grew louder and louder until it seemed as though the wide man might cough up his own lung.
"Priceless," he spluttered with a smile on his face. "Absolutely priceless. Hey Chris, pass me your iPad." He turned back to Marshall. "I think your therapist is 'aving a laugh, or she needs a therapist herself."
He passed the iPad over to Marshall. The touch screen was displaying a web page. The logo at the top was for Gàrradh-Sionnach, the pictures appeared to show somewhere located in the wilds of Scotland, and the people in the pictures were not wearing any clothes.
The people in the pictures were not what Marshall expected of a nudist colony. In his dreams maybe, but real life...no way. They were all tall, busty girls of Russian or East European extraction. They looked to be in their early twenties and were all—without exception—extremely gorgeous. Marshall navigated the site and saw each had their own profile page. He flicked through many many pictures of naked beauties lounging by the pool, leaning against the trees, standing in front of a pristine loch, supping cocktails in a night-time bar.
"Oh my," Marshall said.
"It's a sex resort," Figg said. "They fly the girls, model types, in from Russia, Latvia, Ukraine, those kinds of places. For a couple of grand one of them is yours for the weekend."
Chris, the owner of the iPad, looked over Marshall's shoulder. The browser was currently showing the profile of an amazonian blue-eyed blonde with an incredible pair of large round breasts. Were those even real? Marshall thought as he stared at the pictures. They couldn't be real.
"Ah Vasya, lovely Vasya," Chris said. "You can be mine for the weekend."
"She's not available," the prim man at the back said, revealing an American accent. "She's already booked."
Chris shrugged. "A man that plans ahead. Fair play."
He took the tablet back off Marshall and started leafing through the other profiles.
"I take it your therapist neglected to mention this aspect of Gàrradh-Sionnach," Figg said.
"I think she might have made a mistake," Marshall said.
"Oh well, you might as well enjoy it," Figg said. "I won't tell your missus if you don't tell mine," he guffawed with a wink.
Marshall sat back in his chair and looked out of the window as the bus trundled up into hills carpeted with dense firs. He was supposed to be going to a nudist camp not an international knocking shop. Inari must have cocked up somewhere. That seemed so unlike her.
The Londoners grew increasingly raucous and boastful as the journey continued. In contrast, the American sat quietly at the back, so pinched and tightly wound it seemed like the slightest knock would cause him to come apart with his body parts spronging in all directions.
The bus came over a slight rise and a breathtaking landscape came into view. A beautiful loch, the waters blue and as placid as a mirror, stretched out before them. Wild, tree-lined slopes ran along each side of the valley. Beneath them the road wound down to a picturesque collection of wooden huts on the shores of the loch.
The driver took the bus down, pulled up to a halt outside the largest building—a building Marshall recognised as the main bar from the website—and tooted the horn. There was a sudden flurry of activity as naked girls dashed out into the open space between the huts. Giggling and laughing, they formed a line. Their pink and exposed bits jiggled beneath the warm summer sun.
Marshall stared out of the window and gulped. He didn't think he'd ever seen a more beautiful collection of girls—in the flesh—in his life. They were mostly tall blue-eyed blonde sex goddesses.
And completely naked. All of them.
Even the bankers were briefly shushed.
"Welcome to Gàrradh-Sionnach on this glorious bonnie day," the driver said.
He left his seat, walked around the front and slid open the side door. The Londoners gave a loud cheer and charged out like boys arriving at summer camp.
Marshall stayed back. What now?
"There's been some kind of mistake," he said to the driver as the driver unloaded the bags from the front row of seats.
The driver was a slight man, little more than sinew and bone, yet he lifted the monstrous suitcases out of the bus with barely any effort. He looked up at Marshall and smiled that fox-like grin. There was a bit of feral wildness about the man—like the woods around them.
"There's no mistake," the man said. "Inari Kitson sent you."
Marshall lowered his voice.
"But isn't this place a...brothel," Marshall said.
"Aye, and a fine one at that," the driver said as he continued to unload the bus.
"I don't think I have enough on me," Marshall said. "Money."
"No need to worry about that," the driver said. "Knowing Ms Kitson, she'll have sorted it out already."
The driver stopped what he was doing and glanced down at Marshall's hands.
"Are you married?"
"No," Marshall replied.
"Then what's your problem?" the driver laughed. He walked behind Marshall and steered his protesting form in the direction of the line of girls. "Go and have some fun."
It wasn't girls plural anymore. The other men were already walking off with a girl—in some cases two—on their arm. Marshall saw the thin American had his arm around Vasya, the model with the amazonian figure Marshall had seen pictures of on Chris's iPad. She was nearly a full head taller than the man walking next to her.
One girl remained. In contrast to the other leggy blonde bombshells she was short, maybe not more than five-two or five-three. Her ginger hair stood up in spikes. She was also ginger below, Marshall noticed with a flash of embarrassment. Unlike her wild hair, her muff was short and neatly trimmed. While not as amply endowed as the other girls, her figure was still slender and attractive in a more naturally proportioned way. She seemed nervous. She fidgeted—crossing and uncrossing her legs—as she stared at the floor. As Marshall approached she looked up and—
Wow! Those were the biggest, greenest eyes Marshall had ever seen.
"Hi, welcome to Gàrradh-Sionnach," she said in a lilting Scottish accent.
"Hi," Marshall replied.
If she was Russian she'd spent a very long time up in the Highlands.
"If I'm not what you're after, I can arrange something with the other girls. They're not supposed to take a second girl until everyone has had a pick," she said, motioning to the men walking away to the cabins.
"Well, actually, there's been a misunderstanding. My therapist sent me up here because she thought Gàrradh-Sionnach was a nudist camp."
"Oh!" the girl suddenly brightened up. "You must be O'Neil. Inari said to look out for you."
"Inari knows what this place is?"
"Oh aye," the girl said. "She comes up to visit two or three times a year. She likes hunting in the forests around the loch."
"Inari likes hunting?"
That was a surprise to Marshall. In the office Inari seemed so...imperious. What interest could blood sports hold to a sophisticated woman like her? Marshall realised he didn't know his therapist as well as he thought he knew her.
"I'm Kath," the girl said. "Let me show you to your room."
She led him to one of the plain little wooden cabins.
"She doesn't entirely approve of our other activities, of course," Kath said.
She opened the door and Marshall's mouth dropped open. From the outside it might have looked like a plain little wooden hut, but on the inside it looked like a room from a luxurious five-star hotel. A massive double bed with fluffed up pillows and snug-looking duvet stood in the centre of a spacious bedroom. The walls were adorned with suggestive pieces of art and the lamps were dimmed to give the room an intimate level of illumination.
"I can't afford this," Marshall said.
Kath shrugged. "It's already covered," she said.
"I can't afford my therapist's bill for this," Marshall amended.
Kath laughed. "Inari and Gàrradh-Sionnach go way back. You get the special rate."
Marshall stepped into the room and looked around. This was certainly a lot better than his poky little bedroom down in Altrincham. What was Inari playing at?
"Relax," Kath said. "I'm sure Inari had a really good reason for sending you up here. She's good at spotting what people need."
Or, like Figg had said, she was in need of a therapist of her own, Marshall thought. He started to shrug off his backpack.
"Here, let me help you with that."
"Hey wait, it's...heavy."
Despite her slight figure, Kath didn't seem bothered by the weight at all. She caught his surprised look.
"I'm a proper Highland lass," she said, "they make us out of iron girders and steel springs up here."
She put his bag down next to the bed.
"Well..." she said.
She mimed gripping a top and pulling it up over her head. Marshall understood what she meant. She wanted him to take off his clothes so he was naked like her. Marshall gripped the bottom of his hooded top.
Kath smiled and nodded. She really had the loveliest eyes.
Marshall couldn't do it. His knuckles went white as he clenched the bottom of his top, but his hands refused to obey his instructions to move upwards. His top might as well have been welded to his flesh. He gave Kath an apologetic smile and took his hands away.
"Maybe later," he said. "Got to build my confidence up first."
Kath cocked her head and gave him a questioning glance. Then a light binged in her eyes and understanding dawned.
"You dinnae have to worry about that at all," she said. "Gàrradh-Sionnach is for your pleasure. It's a lovely afternoon, how about some drinks by the loch?"
Kath took his arm and led him, still fully clothed, out of the luxurious cabin.
"I'll have you out of those clothes by the end of the weekend," Kath said to him.
They walked past another cabin and Marshall heard loud sighs and grunts coming from within. He blushed. A couple were having noisy, uninhibited sex.
"They didn't waste any time," Kath said.
"I guess not," Marshall said.
Inari, what have you gotten me into?
"That'll be Ludmila," Kath said. "He'll be regretting his choice come the end of the weekend, mark my words. She's totally insatiable. Most of the laddies can barely walk after a few days with her."
"I don't understand how this place can exist," Marshall said. "I thought..." he wanted to say brothel "...these kinds of places were illegal in Britain."
"They are, technically," Kath said. "The local authorities turn a blind eye. None of the girls here are abused, coerced or trafficked. They're here out of their own choice and we're far enough out of the way not to bother anyone. The local church over in Caraid-Faol wasn't so happy about us, but then we paid to have the church building repaired after it was damaged in a storm. Folks in these parts are pragmatic. As long as we're contributing to the community and not disturbing the normal folk, they're happy to let us carry on doing what we do."
"Sounds sensible enough," Marshall said. "What people get up to behind closed doors is no one's business but their own."
"Oh good. So you'll have no objection to me fucking your brains out later then."
Marshall flared bright red.
Kath slapped him playfully on the ass.
"I'm only winding you up," she said. "I know Inari has sprung this on you out of the blue. You don't have to do anything you don't want to. Think of it as a relaxing weekend in picturesque surroundings..."
Picturesque was right. It was beautiful. They turned the corner around the main building and Marshall thought he'd stepped right into a picture postcard. The clear waters of the loch stretched off into the distance. Dark green fir trees covered the slopes leading up on each side of the lake. The view was completely unspoilt—no sign of any kind of human taint, not even a solitary telegraph pole.
"...but I will have those clothes off you before the weekend is done," Kath said with a playful twinkle in her bright green eyes.
They stepped onto a stretch of pine decking that led to the water's edge. Sun loungers were laid on the wooden planks and gave a perfect view over the crystal waters. A sun lounger was not a piece of furniture Marshall would have normally associated with Scotland, but on a day like this it was perfect.
"What do you want to drink?" Kath asked.
"A beer is fine," Marshall replied.
He settled into one of the chairs. What a fabulous view, he thought.
The close-up scenery was pretty damn fine as well, Marshall thought as he looked at the perfectly sculpted and completely naked bodies of the other girls as they lounged in the sun or played in the water. The view was spoilt a little by the naked bodies of the other men. A couple of the bankers looked in reasonable shape—they had the hard compact bodies of men that trained regularly at the gym—but they were the exception and still nowhere near being in the same league as the girls. That was kind of the point, Marshall supposed.
Figg was corpulent, pasty-white and very hairy. The American looked like he'd been wired together out of stressed bones and taut sinews—gaunt and overwrought. If they could expose their unflattering bodies to the world, why couldn't he? Marshall thought.
He felt hot breath on his ear. Moist lips closed around his ear lobe and sucked. He thought it was Kath coming back until the girl spoke in a husky Russian accent.