Maragana Girl Ch. 08

bycaligula97236©

Eloisa explained to Kim that under such circumstances the police chief had no choice but to arrest her. Eloisa would have lost honor had she not stood with her friends, especially in this situation where they had given up their freedom because of her. Danubian protocol demanded that, whether they had been right or wrong, it was her social duty to join them. Eloisa quietly undressed in front of the chief of police and was led in handcuffs to her classmates.

The students had confessed as a group, and they were tried as a group. Now 28 with the addition of Eloisa, they knelt naked in the courtroom as charges were read against them. The case presented a very difficult dilemma for the trial judge. Their Spokesman pointed out that the students had done nothing more than defend a classmate's honor. However, as pointed out by the prosecutor, in doing so they had broken several laws and disrupted the peace of the community. As unfair as it was, they had to be punished. In the end they were convicted of vandalism and insurrection, the charges of attempted murder, assault, and disrespect for authority being dropped. They received a standard sentence of three years, with a corporal punishment every four months. They had to kneel in line as they were fitted with collars.

Most of the students in the group were still underage, so the court ordered they would be punished the following day at their school instead of in the courtroom. The police allowed them to get cleaned up and have dinner at the police cafeteria, and then they were locked overnight in a large room with mattresses. Early the following morning they were handcuffed and loaded into police vans to be transported back to their school to be punished. Following the punishment they would be released back into the custody of their parents.

Eloisa recalled with horror that second day, when she and the others were ordered to kneel in the cold school courtyard in front of 400 classmates. One-by-one they had to stand up and present themselves at the switching table. Each of them received 25 strokes, standard for someone under-age. As each student turned 18, later switchings would become the standard adult punishment of 50 strokes.

At the end of the day the school director gave a short speech, with the 28 students kneeling behind him. He announced that several serious crimes had been committed and all of them resolved. No one in the school, neither teacher nor student, would be permitted, under any circumstances, to ever mention the tragic events that led to this group punishment. The following day all 28 students would return to their classes and the matter would be closed.

Eloisa's parents were devastated. Over a four-year period they had known absolutely nothing about what had happened to their daughter. Eloisa had suffered in silence, her parents blissfully unaware of what was happening to her. Suddenly their bright daughter had ended up with a three-year sentence in the midst of a massive scandal. However, her father tried to make the best out of the bad situation. That afternoon he sought out Dima. Choking back the tears he had cried over what had happened to Eloisa without his knowledge, he addressed Dima:

"I would be very honored if you come to our house and sit at my table on Saturday. And you, and any of your friends, are welcome, very welcome, to sit at my table whenever you want."

Eloisa was allowed to re-take her semester finals and did quite well. A riot, an execution, and 28 three-year sentences were all it took to get Eloisa re-instated in her school as a student in good standing. The students considered that a victory.

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The riot changed Eloisa's outlook on life. She had always sought to avoid any attention and live quietly. She never trusted anyone except her boyfriend. And yet, when the moment came for her to be unjustly expelled from school, 26 other students had joined Dima to stand up for her. She was indebted to all of them. She had to come out of her world and join the others who had sacrificed for her. She always went with the group to the Socrates Club. Within two months, by pure chance, Eloisa discovered she had a natural talent for singing. Shortly thereafter she discovered that she had a real talent for organizing other singers and choreographing groups of other voices. She began singing on a regular basis. Just six months after her initial sentence, Eloisa was the lead singer for Sergekt's group and the most popular singer at the Socrates Club.

Eloisa's only release in life was singing. Standing on stage allowed her to release the sadness in her soul, a sadness well-suited to a society that valued music with morose philosophical overtones. She was a true Danubian singer, the living incarnation of the expression "to sing like a criminal".

There was another tragedy in Eloisa's life, a holdover from the abuse that she had suffered from her teacher. Eloisa loved her boyfriend in a manner that very few women could love a man. She loved him with all her spirit, all her soul. And yet the one thing she most wanted to do, to have him touch her and hold her, she couldn't. Eloisa was so nauseated by what had happened to her that she was repulsed by any physical contact with other people. No matter how much Eloisa loved her boyfriend, and no matter how much he loved her, he couldn't touch her.

"We keep hoping that, maybe someday it'll be different, that someday Dima can touch me. But Kim, I can't see how it ever will be any different. I'm broken, and I can't be repaired."

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Two days later, 28 young criminals reported to the small police station close to their old school. Spokesman Havlakt accompanied them to assure that they would not be injured and that any sexual fondling from the punishing officers was kept to a minimum. Fortunately for Eloisa, he had obtained a psychiatric release mandating that she could not be touched at all except for the switch. He vaguely hoped the officer punishing Eloisa would violate that psychiatric release, because if he did, her switching could be stopped immediately.

In spite of the unfairness of what had happened, there was very little pity for the group from the school officials and police officers assigned to punish them. The ex-students were forced to kneel while their collars were chained together. The police then handcuffed them and shackled their feet. The officer in charge walked down the line, kicking the kneeling criminals and striking them on the shoulders with his switch.

"Alright you little dishonored bastards...get your filthy bodies moving!"

The line of naked criminals struggled to stand up and slowly shuffled towards their old school. It was bitterly cold and most of them were shivering. They walked about two blocks and filed into the school's main doorway. From there they would go to the gymnasium (a concession to their Spokesman who had not wanted them to be forced to stay outside in the cold school courtyard), and one by one, each would receive 50 strokes of the switch. The terrible detail was the fact that Eloisa and Dima would be forced to witness each other's switchings. For Eloisa and her boyfriend to see each other suffer was a punishment far worse than being punished themselves.

Vladim Dukov and Kimberly Lee, for once dressed in her criminal's cape, quietly stood on the sidewalk across from the police station, sadly watching the group shuffle towards the school. Kim spotted Sergekt, who was fifth in line. She did not try to draw his attention.

"Spokesman Dukov, this is so wrong. At least I did something to get convicted. I mean...Eloisa..."

"No, it is not fair, but it is the way our justice system works. Laws were broken. Violators are punished. It has been this way for 1,000 years. In a situation like this fairness is of only minor importance."

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