From an idea by MsLinnet
© 2004 Charmbrights. All rights reserved.
The author has asserted moral rights under sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance between any of the characters depicted herein and any real person, living or dead is wholly a matter of Nature imitating Art.
The eighteen wheeler was travelling at sixty miles an hour round a blind bend when it hit the car Nancy Young was driving. She never stood a chance. Her husband and her daughter, Martha, were devastated by her death, and Elias hardly noticed that the compensation paid by the owners of the lorry was enough that he never needed to work again.
For Elias he worst part of the grief was the local widows, and a few would be divorcées, who clustered round him, offering to console him for his loss. Some of them were extremely persistent and rather blatant in their offers. He thought he never wanted to see an accidentally revealed breast again.
Martha’s friends’ reaction was different; they shunned her, as though losing a parent might be a transmissible disease. Only a couple of the boys still wanted to date her, but they also assumed that with her mother gone her knickers would come off much more easily than before. She had no time for them at all; she had given up all idea of university and decided she would stay at home and look after her father until he no longer needed her.
Six months after Nancy’s death, it was a television programme that first brought Philipstown to their notice. The presenter was sneering about a village where few people had television, where nobody drank, where there was no crime to speak of, and where the children were well behaved. It seemed that the wonderful advantages of modern civilisation, like AIDS and drugs and muggings and graffiti had been denied to this village, and the presenter though they were worse off because of it.
Martha turned to her father and said, “Daddy, I wish we lived in a place like that.”
Nothing more was said at the time, but Elias found himself thinking more and more about the real possibility of getting away from their old house, where there were so many memories, all of which still hurt every time he was reminded of his loss. Soon after Christmas they decided to go and look at this village where everything was old fashioned and simple. Maps were consulted and routes planned; it was a full day’s drive, so they left at six in the morning.
About five o’clock the same afternoon, stopping outside what seemed to be the only hotel in Philipstown, Elias said to Martha, “You stay here in the car. I’ll see if there are any rooms to let.”
Inside the hotel, he was welcomed warmly and shown two excellent rooms, adjoining each other, but each with its own bathroom. Evidently there was not much demand for accommodation here in January, but their custom was welcomed. After settling in, they came downstairs to find that there was no bar in the building.
“You won’t find a bar here, we don’t have a liquor licence,” said the receptionist, a bright looking girl with shoulder length fair hair but wearing no make up, “but I can do you coffee, or herb tea, and sandwiches if you wish. Dinner isn’t until seven thirty.”
“I really would like a beer,” said Elias, “Where’s the nearest bar?”
“Twelve miles away at Elliottown,” came the surprising response, “Philipstown is dry.”
“Oh,” said Elias in surprise, “I didn’t know there were any dry areas in the country nowadays?”
“It isn’t illegal to sell alcohol here,” the girl explained, “It’s just that nobody happens to sell it. Most things round here are like that; either it isn’t here or there’s only one place to get it.”
“What do you mean?” asked Martha.
“Well, there’s nowhere to buy furniture, nowhere to buy books, only this hotel, only one clothes shop, only one garage and that’s the blacksmith’s as well, only one dairy. Oh, and of course there’s only one chapel. We all think pretty much alike in this village.”
“What do you do for entertainment?” Martha persisted, judging the receptionist to be much her own age.
“We don’t have a cinema, nor do most people have TV. We go to church socials most weeks, except Lent and Advent of course, and I sing in the choir there, but that’s only to mid-summer. I shall be married then.”
“Congratulations. I bet you can’t wait?” said Martha.
Evidently this was misinterpreted completely, because the receptionist stared at her and said tartly, “People round here do wait. We don’t care to follow what city folk do.”
With that the girl disappeared into the office behind reception.
Elias shrugged his shoulders and said, “Oh, dear. Shall we look round the village then?”
They went out on to the street just as someone rode past in a horse drawn vehicle somewhat larger than a trap, pulled by a beautiful pair of greys. In the passenger seats behind the driver were two girls and a boy, all in their late teens and obviously brother and sisters. In fact the two girls looked virtually identical, and the three youngsters were clearly close relatives of the man in early middle age who was driving the horses.
One of the girls waved, and Martha waved back.
Turning to her father, she said, “Well that’s one thing the girl was wrong about.”
“What do you mean?” asked Elias.
“When she said there was only one of everything. It certainly isn’t a one horse town!”
Chuckling, they walked on. There wasn’t very far to go.
At the end of the quarter mile long village main street they came upon the chapel. It wasn’t very high, but it seemed to cover quite a lot of ground. The notice-board outside informed the casual reader that there were services daily at half past seven in the morning, and extra services on Saturday and Sunday evenings. The organisation whose chapel it was seemed to be called the Church of the Conception Immaculate. As they were looking at the board a tall, thin man who looked quite young until one noticed his balding head came out of the chapel and walked over to them.
“Good evening, and God bless you both,” he said in a surprisingly deep voice, “I’m Pastor Benson, but most people call me Benjamin. You must be the couple who have booked in to the hotel. May I welcome you to our little community?”
“News travels fast,” remarked Elias and the Pastor nodded, “I’m Elias Young and this is my daughter Martha. We’re kind of looking round for somewhere to settle, and someone suggested here might be a good place for honest people.”
“Why are you moving from where you were, if you don’t mind my asking?”
“My wife died a while back, and we can’t seem to get over it as long as we live in the same house. I thought a fresh start might help.”
The Pastor nodded his agreement, “That sounds wise to me. If you do decide to settle here, I know you’ll be made welcome. What’s your profession, sir?”
“I’m a car mechanic, but I can turn my hand to most jobs to do with metal.”
“God may have brought you here on purpose,” said the Pastor, to Elias’s surprise, “The village garage and smithy is getting to be too much for Seth Philips and he has no sons. He’s well into his sixties and wants to relax a little before meeting his maker. You should talk to him.”
Martha decided she quite liked this Pastor, though she had never been very religious herself.
She asked, “How difficult would it be to find a house?”
The Pastor ignored her completely and continued to talk to Elias, “He lives in the little red painted cottage next to the smithy. You can’t miss it.”
Then he looked at Martha somewhat sternly, and said, “Children in this community do not interrupt their elders.”
Martha retorted, “I’m not a child. I shall be eighteen in three weeks time.”
“And are you a virgin?” the Pastor asked.
Both Elias and Martha blushed at such as frank question, but she stammered, “Y-yes I am.”
“Children remain children in this community until they marry,” the Pastor intoned, “Then they become adults and may join adult conversations. I bid you good day.”
He turned and walked back into his chapel, leaving Martha feeling that she had been admonished in no uncertain terms.
They walked back along the village street and at the far end, all of four hundred yards from the chapel was the sign,
Blacksmith & Garage
Leaning on the fence in front of the cottage beside the building was a tall, well-built grey haired man who looked somehow completely at peace with the world.
“Good evening,” he said, “You’ll be the people staying in the hotel.”
“I’m Seth Philips, and this here is my smithy.”
“Elias Young, pleased to meet you, and this is my daughter Martha.”
“I see you met Pastor Benson.”
“Yes,” replied Elias, “He said you might be looking for help.”
“Well, can you fix the engines of motors?”
“Show me,” commanded Seth, leading the way in to the garage.
“What’s wrong with it?” asked Elias.
“Sometimes it goes and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it burps like a baby,” said Seth, “I never heard the like, but I’m no good with these things. Give me a horse to shoe any time.”
“I can turn my hand to that as well,” Elias remarked, “Now let’s see.”
Ten minutes later the car was running sweetly.
“Will she still do that tomorrow?” asked Seth.
“Oh yes,” said Elias, “but she needs a spare part. The wire I used won’t last more than a few days. The choke rod arm is worn, but I wired it in place. She’ll need a new one as soon as you can, and every few months after that.”
“Can’t you fix it proper?”
“I could but that would mean replacing the carburettor. With a new choke rod arm every six months or so at a few pennies each it isn’t worth the bother. I can show the owner how to put a new one in in a second.”
“Hmm,” said Seth, “Start eight tomorrow morning.”
With that he disappeared into his cottage, leaving Elias to close the Garage doors. There was no sign of a lock, so he left it open. He was to learn that nobody in Philipstown ever locked a door except once a year in the chapel.
Elias enjoyed working for Seth and they rented a cottage nobody had lived in for a while. Martha soon had it spick and span, and the neighbours remarked that it was cleaner than the previous owner had ever kept it.
Within a few weeks they had joined the Church of the Conception Immaculate, Martha was in the choir there, and they felt as though they had lived there for years, so friendly was everyone.
Martha made friends with some of the other girls of her own age, who seem to seek her out, especially at church. The younger ones hardly ever spoke to her, almost as if she were years older than them, though she knew several were only a year younger than she. Among the friends she made one little group emerged who did everything together: Abigail Lawson, the doctor’s daughter, Betsy Harrison, the twins Charity and Patience Elliot whom she had seen driving past with their father on the first day they arrived in the village, and Elizabeth Ballantyne, the hotel receptionist, and Martha herself were known in church as ‘the Six’ though Martha had no idea what marked them out. She supposed that these things just happened, and that the group would change over time and people would drift away and new ones join.
When she had been part of the little group for a month or so, she learned that they were planning a big birthday party only two days after her own birthday, 19th March. The reason for the excitement was that three of the girls had birthdays within a week after Martha’s, though the Ballantyne twins were already just turned eighteen.
Elias was quite happy to go along with Martha’s idea that she should join in the celebrations and not have her own separate coming-of-age celebration. Martha was very perplexed to discover that they didn’t plan to invite any boys to the occasion, even though the twins’ older brother would be nineteen the same week. She thought that a really odd coincidence.
“Boys spoil everything,” confided Charity, or was it Patience? Martha was never sure which was which.
“We don’t do things that way in this congregation,” added Abigail.
“No,” chimed in Betsy, “The Six are enough and must stick together until the summer.”
“Why the summer?” asked Martha.
“You’ll see,” they chorused, and she remembered that Elizabeth had said she was to marry in the summer.
There was no sign of a fiancé around, nor had any of the others any boyfriends that she knew of. In such a tight little community, Martha supposed, courting was a private affair taking place behind closed doors. She hardly knew any of the boys, but she had her father to look after and didn’t want to be bothered with boyfriends at the time, so she thought no more of it.
It was a fortnight after the party that the Elliot twins invited her to tea. This was unusual, since the Six usually did everything together, but Martha accepted and was greeted by Hope Elliot, the twins’ mother, and taken into the front room, a formal sitting room. There was no sign of the girls, their brother or their father. Hope was a kindly woman with a smile that could encompass the whole world.
“Sit down, Martha. I need to talk to you,” said Mrs. Elliot.
Martha wondered if she had done something awful and Mrs. Elliot was going to tell her off, but Hope just said, “I wondered how much you know about the summer ceremony?”
“All the girls are excited about it, but I don’t know much more than that. Oh, I know we get to dress up, but that’s all.”
As Hope Elliot carefully told Martha more about the ceremony held each year in the Church of the Conception Immaculate at the summer solstice, 21st June, Martha realised how important it was and why she was being told about it with such formality.
As she was leaving the Elliot’s home, Hope asked her, “Now you are quite sure about that, are you? You really do need to decide in the next very few days.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Elliot, but I am quite sure. I do want to take part as one of the Six.”
“I’m so glad, my dear,” the famous smile broke again across Hope’s face, “I’m quite sure you won’t regret it.”
As the summer solstice approached Seth started to overhaul some strange looking stands in the smithy. Elias couldn’t for the life of him work out what they were for; he had certainly never seen the like. Each had four solid legs and a top like a table, but the top was concave, rather than level. The legs were adjustable for height from about two feet six to three feet by means of a single screw mechanism. There were what looked for all the world like police handcuffs, but padded with soft leather on two adjacent corners. Later he added straps to the base that were attached to the two legs which did not have cuffs on then, but about four inches off the ground, placed just over two feet apart. Finally padding was added to the concave top, evidently to make it comfortable for whoever was to sit on them.
Early in the morning of the day of the summer solstice the Six, Martha among them, went to the chapel, where the Pastor held a special service just for them and their mothers. Of course there were only four mothers, the twins sharing and Nancy having died. Because of this Hope Elliot had rather taken Martha under her wing and had been her advisor, and had made her special dress.
After the Pastor left they moved into a little side room where the six matching long white gowns hung. A bowl of home-made lemonade was on the side and each girl was encouraged to drink some. There was a bathroom attached and each girl bathed, taking special care of her cleanliness, and her pubic hair was shaved off by her mother. When each girl was clean she came out of the bathroom and was helped into the floor length white linen dress, high at the neck and very loose fitting, so that it felt as though the wind could cool every part of the body within it every time the girl moved. Finally all were ready and were given another glass of the lemonade.
While this was going on, the five fathers, and the four Elders of the Church took part in another special service, praying for God’s blessing on the ceremony to come, and consecrating the anointing oil to be used. Elias was still totally in the dark as to what would happen. All he knew was that his daughter had made him promise that no matter what happened, or what he saw, he would not disgrace her.
Walking in single file from the dressing room, the girls moved into a side room of the chapel which Martha had never seen before. The stands which had so puzzled Martha’s father were there, ready for use.
“Not long now,” said Betsy, who seemed every bit as excited and yet relaxed as Martha felt.
What the girls did not know was that the lemonade had been spiked with a liberal dose of alcohol which was beginning to take effect, lowering their inhibitions. The girls were gently fitted with gags, comfortable enough but efficient in preventing them making any noise.
Then each girl was led to one of the stands, picked at random by drawing a numbered disc from a bowl. There her feet were carefully strapped into the foot rests, holding them two feet apart. Bending forwards and resting on the cushions, each girl decided how high or low would be most comfortable for her as the supports were adjusted by the mothers. Then each girl’s arms were cuffed in position wide apart above her head. Finally a soft velvet hood was slipped over her head concealing her features and hair.
Each gown were then lifted from the back and thrown forward over the wearer’s head, revealing the buttocks and, because the feet were apart, the private parts of the girl. Once all were prepared the mothers surveyed their handiwork.
“Yes, that will do nicely,” said Hope Elliot, “Even I can’t tell which is which without the colour of her hair to go by.”
The women withdrew from the room, back to the dressing room where the Pastor was waiting until they were all inside before locking the door. They would now remain there until the next part of the ceremony was over. The mothers had all participated in a similar ceremony as girls themselves, and they sat quietly with their thoughts and memories as their daughters went through the same rite of passage as they.
The men were adjured before God to hold silence; only the Pastor could speak.
First Seth was led away by the Pastor and the others sat in silence.
Seth and the Pastor went into the room where the girls were tethered, heads hidden, arses and cunts open and exposed, held like mares waiting for the stallion. Seth had an erection on him like a stallion, and the Pastor did not envy the virgin who was to get him as her first man. Seth looked along the line, trying to decide which one he would use first.
Turning to the Pastor he said, “Very good. I really can’t tell which is which, and I have known these since they were babies, except Martha, of course.”
The girls waited, all but one nervous as could be. They all knew exactly what was going to happen, and they had all watched bulls and stallions performing the act so they were not ignorant of the mechanics of it. Nevertheless, each of those five wondered what it would feel like to have a shaft of rigid flesh thrust up into her belly and then explode with sperm deep inside her.
The one girl who was not nervous was plain scared. She knew what it felt like to have a prick pumping in her cunt, though with a condom on it, and she had enjoyed that pleasure several times in the last couple of months with an itinerant encyclopaedia salesman. What made her frightened was that she knew she would not bleed, and she had no idea what dire punishment might fall on her from the Elders when they realised she was not a virgin.
The Pastor had made a little bet with himself, and won it when Seth selected, as he always did, the first girl from the left in the line. Although he had told nobody why he chose thus, every year for the last five years he had been first to choose as the oldest of the Elders, and had always reasoned the same. His thinking was that the order the girls were lined up was a gift from God; the Bible you read from left to right, so it seemed clear that God wanted the girls used from left to right.