tagNovels and NovellasMaragana Girl Ch. 20

Maragana Girl Ch. 20


Chapter 20 -- The Story of Two Final Punishments

Kim's friends became increasingly nervous as the end of April approached. The reason was simple enough; they were due to receive the final switching of their sentences on April 25. The switching was the final major event of their sentences they needed to endure before their release in July, but that did not make them any less apprehensive about having to face the switching table.

Spokesman Havlakt lobbied hard to get the group's final punishment canceled. They had contributed greatly to Upper Danubia with their music, they had risked themselves during last summer's forest fires, they were in college, and they were leading productive lives. What good could possibly come out of making them suffer yet again, for something that really was not their fault to begin with?

The sentencing judge was sympathetic to the group's plight, agreeing there was no point in administering the final switching. However, the law stipulated that unless a criminal had performed some important service to the country or an act of personal heroism, a scheduled judicial switching could not be canceled. The reasoning behind that law was to prevent Spokespersons from filing routine petitions to cancel switchings and to prevent them from seeking special treatment for their clients.

Spokesman Havlakt and the sentencing judge sat down to examine several old cases, to see if there was any way to get around that law. Finally, just two days before the group was due to report to the Central Police Station, the Spokesman found a partial solution to the problem, which he presented to the judge. The judge would not be able to cancel the switchings completely, but he felt the court could justify reducing the punishments to 25 strokes, because the crimes had been committed when Eloisa and her friends were still under 18. There was one such legal precedent for such a reduction, from a case in the 1960's that was somewhat similar to the one resulting in the convictions against Eloisa's group. On that occasion the students had been sentenced to a year of wearing collars and to receiving three switchings. Like Eloisa's group, the first switching was the standard 25 strokes for persons under-age. The second switching was 50 strokes, but the group's final switching was reduced back to 25 strokes, the criminals being punished as minors, even though they were above 18. The legality of punishing adults as minors in the 1960's case was never challenged. Spokesman Havlakt now had a legal precedent to request a reduction in the severity of his clients' punishments. The sympathetic judge read over the case and agreed with the Spokesman. He could use the old case as a justification to reduce the final punishment of Eloisa and her friends to 25 strokes.

That evening Spokesman Havlakt called Eloisa and her boyfriend and told them contact all the other members of the group. They reported to his office in the evening, all 28 of them. They knew their Spokesman had something important to tell them, or else he would not have had them report to his office at night.

"I have some good news for you. It's not as good as I would have liked it to be, but still, you may consider yourselves blessed. The sentencing judge and I were determined to see what we could do to eliminate your final corporal punishment. We could not completely eliminate your final punishment, but when you are switched the day after tomorrow, you will be punished as minors, not adults. In other words, each of you will receive 25 strokes with the switch instead of 50."

Eloisa and her friends looked at each other, visibly relieved. The Spokesman continued, explaining the case that led to the legal justification for reducing the punishment. He concluded. "I don't know if this case would have helped you earlier in your sentences or not, because its legality was never challenged. There won't be any opportunity for the prosecutor to challenge the legality of the case now because it will be used on you in just two days and on a single occasion. But once you have been punished the day after tomorrow, that will be it. A little over two months from now your collars will be off and you'll be free citizens. Keep your minds focused on that when you lie across the switching table this one last time."

The Spokesman then laid out the schedule for the group's punishments. His goal was to simply get the whole thing over with as quickly as possible. The police would be using two punishment rooms, 14 members of the group per room. The Spokesman decided to divide his clients into two sub-groups of 14, one of which would report to his office at 8:00 in the morning, the other which would report at 11:00 in the morning. He hoped to have the punishments completely finished no later than 2:00 in the afternoon.

Once 14 members for each shift were present, they would be divided between the two punishment rooms, 7 per room. Spokesman Havlakt would take one group downstairs, while Vladim Dukov would take the other group downstairs. They would be switched one at a time, each one then being released to return to the Spokesman's Office after his or her switching.

"I hope that, with just 25 strokes, you won't need much time to recover, but for any of you who do, I'll have my tables set up. I do expect you to stick together once you have been punished. Come upstairs to my office, or to Spokesman Dukov's office, and wait there until everyone from your group is done."

Finally, the Spokesman emphasized the changes under the new rules resulting from Vladim Dukov's reforms.

"What you must endure will be very straightforward. You will go downstairs in handcuffs, each one of you will be strapped down, you'll get your 25 strokes, you'll be let up, you'll thank the cop for punishing you, and you'll come back upstairs. That's it. No leg irons, no fondling, no hits on the shoulders, no kicks, no fingers up your bottoms. We got all that to stop. The younger cops aren't that happy about it, but that's just too bad. You're not here to give them playtime."

Dima knelt and the others followed his lead. As the leader of the group he pressed his forehead on the ground at the feet of his Spokesman, and with that the group departed to the Socrates Club. The group was no longer afraid; they now simply looked at their final switching as the last unpleasant event that stood between the present and the conclusion of their sentences. For most of the group, their sentences really would end in two days. There were no more switchings scheduled, nothing to be afraid of during the final two months.

Eloisa and her friends shaved their pubic hair one final time the day before their punishments, but they did not wear the long faces they had worn during previously. Tomorrow's ordeal would be painful and unpleasant, but not horrific and humiliating as it had been on previous occasions.

The following morning, at 7:45 am, eight young women and six young men knelt in the reception area of their Spokesman's office. They had split into two groups, four women and three men each. They would follow their usual routine of allowing the women to go first. Shortly after the group was kneeling Officer Vladik Dukov and his partner entered the Spokesman's office. The 14 criminals knelt forward, touching their heads to the floor. Vladik addressed the group in a very routine manner.

"Very well, you all know the routine, so I'm not going to make an issue out of it. I need all of you to stand up, in the order you plan to be punished. As I come up to each of you, you will turn your back to me and present your hands. Once I handcuff you, step into the main corridor and get in line. My partner and I will take you downstairs and we'll try to get this over with as quickly as possible."

Once the fourteen criminals were handcuffed and standing in line, a second pair of police officers joined Vladik and his partner. They were somewhat older, a man and a woman. During that spring very few younger officers were punishing criminals, since most of the younger cops had to return to the National Police Academy and be retrained to punish criminals under the new guidelines.

Once the two groups were ready, Vladik tapped Eloisa's shoulder and motioned her to follow him downstairs. With that a group of seven naked, handcuffed criminals followed the two police officers to the first of the two punishment rooms to be used during today's switchings. The second group followed behind and disappeared into the second punishment room. Spokesman Havlakt entered the punishment room along with the two police officers and seven criminals. The police locked the door and removed the group's handcuffs. There was the usual reading of the charges and sentence conditions by the judge as the seven criminals knelt with their foreheads pressed to the floor and their bottoms high in the air. Once the official reading of the charges was over, Eloisa and her companions knelt upright. They no longer would be required to keep their heads pressed to the ground until their turn came up to be punished.

Vladik and his partner took their places close to the switching table and waited. Spokesman Havlakt tapped Eloisa on the shoulder. She struggled to her feet, stepped forward with her Spokesman, then dropped to her knees at Vladik's feet. There was the normal question from Vladik.

"Spokesman, are there any restrictions concerning the punishment of this criminal that I need to be advised about?"

"Yes, Officer, today there is a restriction concerning the punishment of this criminal."

"What is that restriction, Spokesman?"

"The court has ruled that you will punish this criminal as a minor, in accordance with a precedent set in 1964 with the sentence of Criminal # 52298 and her five companions. The court has ordered that you are limited to delivering 25 strokes instead of the normal 50."

"Very well, Spokesman, I will comply with the restriction."

With that the two men saluted each other and Vladik tapped Eloisa on the shoulder. The exchange had been a formality, because Vladik already was aware of the ruling. Still, the court records needed to document that Vladik Dukov understood he was to give only 25 strokes and why. The same exchange would be recorded for each criminal in Eloisa's group, in each of the two punishment rooms.

Eloisa leaned forward and kissed Vladik's shoes. Again he tapped her shoulder with the switch.

"Criminal # 92870, rise and present yourself at the table."

Eloisa stood up and for the last time in her life extended herself across the switching table. Vladik's partner secured her wrists and ankles with leather straps, then buckled the strap around her waist. Eloisa was immobilized and ready to receive her second switching from Officer Vladik Dukov.

Vladik Dukov tapped Eloisa's bottom with his switch and quickly struck her with a sharp, painful blow. He was not hitting her as hard as the law permitted. However, he had to strike her hard enough to leave a clear mark, or the sentencing judge could not count the stroke when he presented Eloisa's bottom to have her punishment certificate signed. Eloisa would have to have 25 clear switch-marks on her body for her switching to meet the minimum legal standard. This was, after-all, real punishment, not a formality. Eloisa understood that, and held no resentment against Vladik for hurting her. She knew that he was trying his best to keep her suffering to a minimum.

Eloisa gasped and tears ran down her cheeks as Officer Vladik Dukov laid one painful stroke after another on her exposed bottom. She was determined not to cry, however, during this final punishment of her sentence. Vladik tried to accommodate Eloisa's effort not to cry by moving as quickly as possible through the 25 strokes. He tapped Eloisa's bottom, laid a red stripe, tapped her again, and struck again. He was done within 10 minutes. Eloisa maintained her dignity and managed to stay quiet during her ordeal.

Vladik and his partner quickly undid Eloisa's straps and she struggled to stand up. A bit uneasy on her feet and her cheeks streaked with tears, Eloisa allowed Vladik and his partner to take her arms and present her backside to the judge. The judge counted 25 red welts on her bottom, and signed her final punishment certificate. Eloisa then approached Vladik and her Spokesman, and knelt to kiss his shoes. There was a salute, and that was it. Eloisa was released back into the custody of Spokesman Havlakt, never to be punished again.

Eloisa left the room and struggled to walk upstairs. The pain from the strokes had actually increased a bit, but that was normal. She walked into the reception area of her Spokesman's office and past his secretary. The secretary put her hand on a recovery table, but Eloisa shook her head. She didn't need a recovery table. What she needed was to be alone for a while. The secretary nodded and opened the door to the Spokesman's back office.

"The others will be looking for me. Please tell them where I am, but not to bother me. I need...really need...not to be bothered."

Eloisa entered her Spokesman's main office and closed and locked his door. She was alone, as she wanted, but was unsure what to do next. She walked to the window and looked out onto the street below. The trees were leafing out and people were walking around in the warm spring sunshine. Some of the younger women were wearing a new style of sun-dress that recently had come into fashion and that Eloisa really liked. She was hoping the style would still be popular in July, because a new summer dress was one of the first indulgences she wanted for herself once her sentence ended.

It's over...thought Eloisa to herself. This is finally over; at least the dread of the physical punishments was over. The only part of her sentence left was the waiting until July 2, and then, freedom. Eloisa knew that sometimes criminals looked back at the final part of their sentences, the weeks between the final switching and actual freedom, as the happiest time of their lives. The anticipation of freedom is very present in their minds, with none of the disappointments and hardships that invariably accompany a person's ability to exercise free will. Eloisa would have to be careful with her impending freedom, and was well aware of that fact.

Ever since her first year in high school, Eloisa's life had been one of personal hardship and psychological torment. In some ways her sentence had been far easier on her than the four years that had preceded. Her mind had suffered and her body had suffered. Suffering was what defined Eloisa; it was what made her who she was. She expected to suffer, and actually was somewhat frightened of having to live a life in which the only suffering she endured would be the torment of her own memories and her guilt. Maybe she could someday break free from all that, maybe she couldn't.

The searing pain coming from Eloisa's bottom continued to torment her. This had been by far the most lenient punishment she had received, but for some reason today she felt that day's welts more than she had felt any of the other switchings. She walked over to her Spokesman's full-length mirror and sadly studied the red lines marking her pale skin. For a long time she stared blankly at the carpeting at the foot of her Spokesman's desk, as the anguish inside her soul rose to the surface. Eloisa could feel it, rising from her gut to her chest, from her chest to her throat, that unbelievable torment embedded in her soul.

I'm damaged, and I don't see how I can be fixed. Eloisa used the Danubian word "poganachoa" to describe herself, which meant "broken beyond repair." What if that was true?

The memories came back, full force. All those horrible things that teacher made her do...and those pictures. And on top of all that, an unfair sentence that dragged her friends, and even some students who barely knew her, into her problems...How could she ever find peace after all that had happened to her? Over and over she repeated the damning phrase from her life...

"Ya dek poganachoa! Ya dek poganachoa! Ya dek poganachoa!"

Eloisa began crying. After all these years, she needed to cry. Not cry from the pain of a sore bottom, but cry from the pain of her experiences in life. She sank to her knees and rested her elbows on one of the office chairs, burying her face in her hands. The young criminal's entire body heaved with sobs. She had been brave; she had done everything possible to live as honorably as she could, given her circumstances. She had repaid the society that had so cruelly mistreated her with kindness and the gift of her music. She had fulfilled her social duty to the friends who had sacrificed for her by becoming successful and making many of them successful. Now however, there was one thing that Eloisa needed. She sobbed on and on, louder than she had ever cried before. She had seven years of intense pain built up in her soul, and finally it had to come out.

By the time Eloisa started crying and making such a scandal in the office, all of the group's women had finished with their switchings. The women had prepared some tea and were nursing the welts on their bottoms. They were extremely upbeat, due to their relatively mild punishments and the knowledge they now were done with the physical portion of their sentence. However, their good mood was disturbed by the sounds coming from the other side of their Spokesman's door. The seven young women clustered around and became increasingly worried about what was happening on the other side.

Eloisa was confident the thick wooden door of her Spokesman's inner office would muffle the sound of her crying. Normally it would have, but she was crying so loudly that her fellow ex-classmates could hear her quite clearly in the outer office. They heard her screaming "Ya dek poganachoa", but none of them could understand why she would be saying that. The crying went on and on, continuing as the six male students from the first punishment group came up the stairs to join their eight female classmates.

Several members of the group debated getting the key from Spokesman Havlakt and opening the door. It was Spokesman Havlakt who came up with one final important detail to that plan.

"If you really want to disturb Eloisa, then you need to call Kimberly Lee and have her go into that office by herself. She knows Eloisa better than any of the rest of you, and I think she's the only one who can get her to calm down."

The others immediately jumped on the idea of having Kim try to talk to Eloisa, since it was true Kim was much closer to Eloisa than anyone else in the group. One of the group's back-up singers made a quick call to the music store.

Kim excused herself from work and sped to the Central Police Station on her bicycle, arriving within five minutes. She darted up the stairs to the complex's top floor and the Spokespersons' office area. She entered the office, took the key from Spokesman Havlakt and eased the door open. She found Eloisa lying on her stomach on the floor, her body still jerking with sobs.

Kim was reluctant to disturb her friend, knowing that Eloisa needed the emotional release she was experiencing. At the same time, Kim suspected Eloisa also needed comforting. She knelt next to her friend and laid a hand on her shoulder. Eloisa continued to sob. While their other friends were baffled by the statement "I'm damaged beyond repair," Kim did understand what Eloisa was saying. She addressed her friend in Danubian.

"Tebe negat...Eloisa. Tebe negat poganachoa..."

Kim tried to fill her friend with hope, with the idea that she could, and would, get past everything that had happened to her over that last seven years. She helped Eloisa stand up. Eloisa, still sobbing, hugged Kim tight, almost intimately, to the point the American felt a bit uncomfortable. Kim felt Eloisa's naked body pressed tightly against her own, her companion's breasts flattening against her chest. Eloisa pressed her head on Kim's shoulder, which quickly became wet from her friend's tears and saliva. Kim said nothing more...she just held Eloisa for a very long time while the other women and Spokesman Havlakt watched nervously through the doorway. Eloisa sobbed and tried to speak.

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