Continues from chapter four
I had wanted to thank Warden Sub2 for all her kindness and care but words seemed inappropriate and out of place in our initial relationship. I knew that she knew that I appreciated and adored her from the first. As tired as I was, the thought of sleep seemed implausible after she had fixed me up for the night...so many thoughts and sensations reeling through my mind. My introduction to my new life with ICRI couldn't have possibly gone better in a million years: everything seemed utterly perfect and preordained. I lay in my thick rubber night-suit, pinned beneath the heavy rubber sheet upon my padded rubber bed and revelled in the mysteries of Creation.
The few weeks after that initial introduction are really just a blur. If I wasn't asleep I was sedated and if I wasn't sedated I was anaesthetized. Warden 6 - our Nurse - and her supervisor the Doctor had work to do upon me. The most time consuming was the annihilation of every single hair follicle that wasn't an eyelash or the thin lines of my brows. Actually, I believe that most of the tedious work was performed by a woman whose number I've forgotten, who was being trained in the infirmary. Endless attacks by electrolysis and laser eventually rendered me hair free and I didn't have to suffer much in the process thanks to the drugs. The doctor performed some fairly minor cosmetic surgeries as well, and of course I was given my tracking implant lest I ever wander off. I have no idea where it's located and I'm sure the small incision wound has disappeared entirely by now. My most vivid memories of those first weeks however, are definitely the feeding sessions.
Once per day, in groups of six at a time, all the inmates are gathered in a special room on the fourth floor. Just thinking of it now has my juices running and the phantom taste of pink goo on my tongue. Along one wall, a half-dozen elaborate stations are ensconced, each equally as inviting as the next. Warden 4 and her charge, 463, seem to take endless delight in the daily task of strapping us into our places. A high, very narrow black saddle is our dining chair, its thinly padded rubber surface reinforcing any plug or plugs the girls may be holding. It is attached to an elaborate structure that includes adjustable locking stirrups for our feet and an integrated heavy rubber arm-binder to fuse our limbs behind us.
Once the elaborate ritual of our confinement is meticulously fulfilled by our maitre d's we eagerly await the tinkling of Warden 4's little dinner bell, which sometimes occurs straight away but ofttimes not until a prolonged period of earnest anticipation has passed. When its sweet notes finally reach our piqued ears the Pavlovian prisoners really begin to salivate, if they weren't already doing so. Struggling against our implacable restraints we still have a minimum of leeway to stretch towards our goal. The irresistible black rubber phalluses sprout from the wall above us, just high enough to challenge those of the six who have been good, very difficult for those who have not and impossible for anyone who has seriously troubled one of our superiors. Our seats are spring loaded and follow us upwards in our quest for the Elixir waiting within the phallic dispensers.
One by one the girls at last reach their goal and voraciously hold on with their lips, willing the thing deeper. The sounds of five or six addicted nymphos sucking on their source of sustenance is indescribable. The ever resistant-to-flow goo requires much effort to extract from the reluctant shafts but the helpless, rubber-bound ladies do not lack for motivation...although on occasion Warden 4 will encourage us with a stiff paddle to the backside. Heavenly dinner is served.
"Well well, 123, that was quite the performance, if I hadn't witnessed and rather enjoyed it myself I could perhaps doubt its very validity. You must be punished of course, but I didn't feel any intentional disrespect emanating from your theatrics...on the contrary, I think you've proven yourself to be what we'd hoped for when accepting you into our little group. Don't let your conscience trouble you: I shan't be too hard on 043 once she's completed her spins. How was she to know of, let alone curtail the voluptuous and wanton slutty lust that is harboured in your heart?"
Warden 10's uncanny voice was music to my ears. Instead of being upset as I had feared, she was all but flirting with me. She came close and brushed ever so lightly against my left arm as she circled in behind and rewarded me with a little more air. "I've got to pop upstairs for a bit," she said, reappearing on my other side. "You may remain standing where you are and think about this." Her tone was unaltered but I thought I detected something unusual in the implied italics of the last word. She rose before me and pressed her deep red lips to my mask, leaving behind a perfect imprint of lipstick and a very bewildered sycophant.
By the time I realized what was happening she was gone. Warden 10 has an odd way of vanishing that leaves one wondering if she is actually corporeal. If the evidence hadn't been left right in front of me I would have been questioning my senses but as it was I was ecstatic. A kiss from an angel, or an alien, was clearly implanted on my visor. I was still slightly gnawed upon by my conscience with thoughts of 043's endless pirouettes but was utterly transported by the signature token bestowed upon me. Since being confronted with the astounding oddity that is Warden 10 my only hope had been to please her or at least try not to displease her: any thoughts of intimacy seemed utterly preposterous, she being from the ultramundane and I from the mundane. It wasn't just the kiss, which I was having vague flashbacks of, it was her voice before she delivered it, something in her tone suggested that the impossible might just be possible.
I fulfilled her command and remained standing where she left me, contemplating her utterly unanticipated gift. The weight of my ensemble and my somewhat limited air supply were no longer a focus of my attention, nor was my eventual punishment which, truth be told, I was very much looking forward to. The inevitable footfalls at length returned and with them my renewed wonderment of what was unfolding.
I snuck a quick moment to give thanks to the Heavens for what had occurred, what was occurring and what might yet occur, before Warden 10 installed herself before me and spoke, "All is well upstairs, my little nymph, so we can return to the dressing room and check on Forty-Three's progress." She took my hand in such a manner that I could have literally passed out...the vibrations of love and desire traversed the layers of rubber between us in nanoseconds. Was this really happening? She led me out of the room and down the hall to dressing room four with such utter grace and perfection that I once again began to doubt the very reality of her being.
043 was obviously a professionally trained dancer. I had envisioned her dizzily trying to spin around in circles but the magnificent sight that greeted us was extremely impressive. Her pirouettes wouldn't have been out of place at the Bolshoi: swift, distinct, with legs and arms under perfect control, her head staring straight forward as long as possible before snapping around to complete the cycle...she was amazing.
Warden 10 let her continue while she procured a bottle of water before indicating that she should stop. "Almost finished, Forty-Three?", her tone was condolent. "Mmph," said 043. Apparently there is a hidden valve in the big pink penis gag that I was unaware of for the water was soon drained by the parched pirouetter, as our Superior suckled her charge. "Finish up then, Forty-Three, and take a well-deserved rest once you have. That's half of my criminals punished, now on to part two," she spoke as though savouring the sensation her words would have and took me by the hand again. The legs and arms and the rest of the pink rubber ballerina renewed their perfect motion, the sound of her perfect boots resounded on the floor as precisely as a metronome.
Warden 10 led me back towards the elevator but stopped at a desk and scribbled some cursive upon a post-it note which she promptly stuck to my visor, further inhibiting my vision. She grasped my hand yet again but in such a way that I almost literally collapsed: this creature has an uncanny ability to transmit powerful emotions through the subtlest of means. I knew instantly that we were nearing the climax of our tryst and that she was truly loving it, perhaps as much as I, were that possible. I followed her lead, floating in my heavy gear and weight-belts in a direction I paid no heed to, utterly enraptured by the day's turn of events. When my goddess opened the heavy door to the staircase, my mushy brain finally realized what was happening.
Once the work on me in the infirmary on Level 6 was complete the time came for my initiation and naming. As she was locking me up in my cell one night our Matron informed me that the following day was to be my new 'birthday' and explained some of the procedure to me. They don't make a huge to-do about it but it means a great deal to most of us. Personally, I felt as though I had been waiting my entire life for the occasion.
All the Wardens come together on Level 3 where the invitee has been displayed in a pose of extreme bondage that is considered appropriate to her character. The gathered inspect the specimen then the highest in rank proposes that the subject be admitted into the esoteric club that is the ICRI. A unanimous vote is the hope but two dissenting voices mean immediate refusal. If there is just one naysayer the group dismisses to another location to discuss the matter before returning for a re-vote, leaving the poor applicant in her distressing limbo. Warden Sub2 said that she had been given the honour of preparing me upstairs the next morning and that I shouldn't worry about the outcome of the vote since there had only been one case of a negative decision in the history of the establishment, the candidates being so well screened and vetted beforehand. She wished me a goodnight and left me to my thoughts.
Despite my Keeper's reassurances I was far too agitated to even consider sleep. I had assumed that the occasion was simply a right of passage not a determination of my future. After all that I had been through in my first month or two, all the perfections of my dreams coming true...the thought that it could just suddenly end was horrific to me. I tried to console myself with Warden's words but she hadn't given any details about the one case where admission had been denied. What was the reason and why couldn't it happen to me?
I burst into tears in a fit of extreme emotion: I thought that I had already been accepted into the most glorious place on Earth only to learn that the residents were still debating whether I belonged or not. Never in my life had I felt so at home and so perfect since coming here, more often than not feeling out of place and awkward in my old world; plus I had already been fantasizing about getting my sentence extended for good behaviour and perhaps even someday being allowed to remain on indefinitely at the Institute. I knew that I was overreacting but I couldn't help myself: I sobbed and sobbed until I feared I would be drowned in my own sleep-sack by my tears.
Eventually I managed to calm down after crying myself out. I realized that my fate was in the hands of just the very people that I wished it to be and that if for some reason they decided I wasn't meant to live among them then that was that. I recalled the moments of grace and perfection and deja vu from my previous weeks and couldn't help but be consoled by the fact that the Universe seemed to be willing me on in my journey. Sometimes a good cry isn't such a bad thing: I felt somehow cleansed and must have finally drifted off, for my next memory was of our Warden waking me for the big day.
"Be a dear and deliver my message to Minus-Two, would you?" Warden 10's tone had assumed it's previous, non-flirty resonance. "There should be enough air in your tank to complete the journey I would hope, just don't let go of the hand-rail: the Doctor is busy enough without having to attend to any broken bones caused by your carelessness," she continued, as though I would be entirely to blame for such an occurrence. "Move!" she raised her eloquent voice ever so slightly, synchronized with a surprisingly forceful slap to my left buttock before locking me alone into the stairwell.
A fitting punishment for causing 043 further duress after she'd already endured the stairs: I would be following in her footsteps, albeit with significantly larger ones. At least gravity would be on my side, providing I didn't stumble which seemed all too possible. My mask prevented me from seeing the stairs directly below me but once I got hold of the rail I was able to tentatively lower my left fin down to the first step, being careful to leave enough space for the right one. Down it went as well and I was on my way, one cautious step at a time, only twelve flights to go. Oh my, what had I gotten myself into? Concentration was key I decided, one lapse and I could be in serious trouble. I wasn't sure if my frightened grip on the railing would be strong enough to hold me with all the extra weight I bore. Well, the mail must get through I decided. I'd been given the task as letter-carrier for the enigmatic Warden of the tenth floor and I wasn't about to fail her in my first assignment...at least not if my air supply held out.
I soon got a pretty good rhythm going and discovered I had reached the first landing, after trying to put my foot on a stair which didn't exist. That startled me but kept me on my toes so to speak. Turning my first corner I was soon on my way to completing the first stage.
Concentration under the best of circumstances isn't my particular forte, especially since coming to ICRI. After I'd descended a few floors and became a little more confident I began to notice it fading, my mind drifting to thoughts of what had happened earlier and what might happen in the future. I would admonish myself and regain my focus only to see it waning again a few steps on. At one point I noticed that if I stared through the little note stuck to my mask directly at a light in the stairwell I could see the reverse image of Warden 10's handwriting. I was very curious to try to decipher it but hesitant to stop moving, lest I was being watched. I actually began to rationalize the idea that it might be possible to continue my journey and translate the message simultaneously. Thankfully my madness ended when the realization of the iniquity of reading a message not intended for me curbed my curiosity.
On and on I went. Several times I attempted to lift a foot only to discover that my other flipper was partially atop it and my heart would jump and my hand would grip the rail desperately. The further I descended the more I began to enjoy my ordeal. My ever present sex drive was steadily reasserting its control over me. When I'd reached all the way to the second floor I couldn't help but wonder about the 'normal' people on the other side of the wall. There are no doors for either of the first two rented levels of the building as they have a separate staircase but I imagined employees working away at their desks on the other side. What would they think if they could somehow see my descent just inches away from their everyday life?
At long last I reached my beloved sub-level 2 without serious incident and heaved a huge sigh of relief into the internal mask of my full-face Scubapro. I was already loving the experience over the previous few flights of stairs but once I had landed safely at my destination the fear and concern dissolved and I was truly in my element again. I rang the unlikely doorbell and hoped that "Minus-Two", as Warden 10 had called her, was on duty. Almost immediately our Matron's form appeared before me as she opened the next door of my journey.
The Warden of sub-level 2 was at her best that fateful morning of my initiation. She helped me out of my bed clothes and into my pink day-suit straight away without a shower. The white rubber interior of the suit slid smoothly over my hairless body. I was glad she hadn't noticed any evidence of my emotional outburst of the previous evening for I was feeling almost ashamed of it in the light of the new morning.
Before my hood went on Warden produced my custom earplugs from a pocket in her shiny white apron. Made from a mold of my actual ears the jiggling pink silicon devices fit snugly into my canals and mesh perfectly with the central area of my outer ears. Once inserted they can remain comfortably in place indefinitely and are very effective silencers. Warden eased them gently into place, almost as though intentionally trying to not make it a sexual act, but of course I'm hopeless in that regard: I was already frisky and having any hole penetrated by the gleaming white dominatrix was a thrill.
Once I was fully suited she simply took my hand and led me to the elevator. I was excited but nervous as the ascent to Level 3 commenced with my fate hanging in the balance. "You'll be fine dear, just enjoy the moment," the gleaming double white mass said loudly, perhaps sensing my doubts. Her words were barely audible through the plugs she had installed but had an appeasing air of conviction to them. "You were meant to be here," she decreed just as the door began to open on my special day.
Level 3 appeared to be deserted as we walked through it. "I've prepared everything in advance for you and we've got plenty of time before the other Wardens arrive dear," my preparer sounded quite happy and excited in her role that day. "So we can take our time and make sure we get you fixed up just right," as she spoke we came into a large open area with an obvious centre of focus, the sight of which instantly inflamed my passions.
A large complex piece of bondage furniture to which I would obviously soon be coupled rose before us. Its main section resembled a high black pommel horse without the pommels. Attached along either side were narrower eighteen inch adjustable padded areas to secure the forearms and lower legs once the beast had been mounted. Each of these had multiple wide rubber straps lying in wait as did the stallion itself. Shiny chrome d-rings were profligate over the creature, as if a piercing fanatic had run amuck. To the front was another adjustable padded rubber section with a hole in the centre like a massage table and an alternative u-shaped device which could support the chin upwards. The entire mass rested upon four gleaming hydraulic legs terminating in lockable casters.
My heart was all aflutter and Warden allowed me to examine my mount as she busied herself in a wardrobe against the wall. I circled my fixation with longing, any doubts about my future obliterated by a passionate need to be helplessly mated to this thoroughbred beauty. I'd never been so attracted to an inanimate object before and when I noticed a small control panel protruding from its backside like a tail the bronco's spirited nature was revealed. "That's enough fawning for now dear, let's get you ready," Warden's dampened voice beckoned me to her side where my enthusiasm was undiminished as I realized that it would be the rider not the horse wearing most of the tack today.
I'm afraid I gave our Keeper quite the shock when she saw me standing in full rubber dive gear at the bottom of the stairs. "Heavens 123, is that you? What's happened? Have you come all the way down like that?" The questions poured out of her in startled succession. "Oh my, have you upset Warden 10? What could have happened..." Her words trailed off as she noticed the message from above and took it from my visor, examining it as though it were as alien as its author. She stared at it for the longest time as though attempting to solve a complex riddle, then her eyes returned to me and an audible gasp emerged from the mouth of her discipline helmet. "Oh, 123!" she spouted in an odd tone that I couldn't quite interpret: she had seen the red seal stamped upon me.
"Well come along then," she said with resignation, taking my hand almost brusquely. "You're going straight back up to complete your lesson and I'll be along shortly to fetch you," by the end of the sentence Warden's voice had almost assumed its normal timbre, although I thought I still detected an air of uncertainty within it. What had the note said and why was my beloved Matron troubled by it and/or the lipstick? Soon I was back in the lift and rising alone to the tenth floor after an unexpected little hug.
There was no one there when the elevator opened on Level 10 and I hesitated to cross the threshold without expressly being told to. When it began to close again after a few moments I had no choice but to stop it and disembark. I stood just a step into the room as it departed. The heavy toll of my first 'swimming' lesson became more and more noticeable as I waited in place. I realized that all the excitement had been masking my growing exhaustion. I wanted to sit or preferably lie down but was afraid to even lean against a wall. I wondered perhaps if my air supply was running low and wasn't even sure if I could remove the mask without assistance: the straps holding it in place seemed very tight and I couldn't see them to lose them even if I knew how they functioned. Me being me, that train of thought had excited me once again and my incurable friskiness had returned to overpower my fatigue and fears. I thought back to Warden 10 tightening my wide rubber crotch strap with such gusto and unconsciously reached down towards my sex. Just on cue the now familiar sounds of her approaching stilettos aborted my insouciance and brought me back to the present.
"Back so soon my pet? You must have been eager to see me again, no?" The alien goddess transformed the room with her sweet syllables. Somehow, in her absence one is able to forget or at least tune out the magic that she wields but in the instant of her return the spell is recast. I nodded as ardently as my gear would allow and floated somewhere above cloud nine as she approached me, veering off to my left. "I see your tank is running low dear, best we turn down the supply to conserve what's left," As she spoke I felt her adjusting a valve and I was soon struggling to get enough oxygen through my mask. "This strap seems to have lost some of its hold," she lied and forcefully yanked the wide black rubber belt even tighter over my yearning lust.
I was close to the edge again, Warden 10 could do that to me even without the actual physical manipulations. "Can you find your way back to dressing room four or do I need to babysit you? Forty-Three is waiting to remove your kit." Her words melted into the void as her arms stretched around me from behind and her hands found my longing breasts waiting beneath two layers of rubber. She massaged them whole, ignoring the most sensitive centres and I somehow sensed her desire to grind her pelvis into my backside, an act which was precluded by the air tank. "Ah, not today my wench, but rest assured I will have my way with you." Her words evoked a hopeful groan from my air-starved depths as she took my hand again. "I suppose we can't have you getting lost in your current state can we? Come along then." Her voice had taken on a pleasantly condescending tone, reminiscent of our Chauffeuse.
"What a slut you are 123, have you always been like this or did the pink goo reduce you to such debauchery?" Warden 10's leading question had the ironic effect of stimulating me even further rather than provoking a defence of my chastity. Another moan of longing escaped from me as we walked down the corridor. "Well, it was a rhetorical query but I can't say I'm surprised by your response," she laughed. "Were you planning to come again without permission today just to earn some more of the punishments that you obviously crave?" My goddess was enjoying toying with me but perhaps didn't realize how true her words were and just how close I was again. I managed to refrain from begging and confined myself to gasping for air. At last we arrived and the door to the dressing room opened. "After Forty-Three is done with you you may continue your studies until your precious Nanny arrives," she said with a slight hint of venom. Releasing my hand rather perfunctorily she strode off, disappearing around a corner.
"Slip your wrists into the cuffs my sweet, so we can get started," Warden's hushed words were lost on me since she was holding an intimidating long-line black rubber corset with no cuffs in sight. I peered at her quizzically and she raised her eyes upwards. Hanging from a chain above us were two loops of innocuous looking rubber, perhaps an inch and a half in width. I quickly complied and watched as she turned a crank attached to the wall which ratcheted the chain higher while simultaneously tightening the nooses about my wrists. I watched hypnotized as her big white arm spun the thing around and around to the accompaniment of metallic chinks, pulling me higher until I actually left the ground. With some more revolutions I was well in the air and looking down at the odd scene from above. My position quickly became uncomfortable but Warden pulled the partially laced corset up over my swaying form and into place, quickly tightening it just enough to hold it there. She soon had me back down, albeit on tip-toe.
The lacing took quite some time as Warden meticulously worked up and down from the centre of my back, hugging me ever and ever tighter in unyielding steel-boned rubber. I'm not sure they have the same effect upon others but for me a corset is no different from a mind-altering chemical: wearing one actually changes my state of consciousness noticeably, if not drastically. Perhaps it's mostly just how it affects one's breathing but by the time I was laced up and released from the cuffs I was experiencing a 'corset-high', as I've dubbed it. Next Warden produced a complicated looking head harness which included blinders of the type used on draft animals. She swiftly had it in place and was tightening the multifarious rubber straps to secure it. In lieu of a more traditional bit, my mouth was filled with an enormous black rubber penis gag which was, along with all the other straps, locked snugly in place by small padlocks of the type that adorned the discipline helmet of Warden herself.
When I saw the neck corset that matched the traditional one that had me floating in perfect posture I sincerely doubted that it would be able to fit properly. I have a fairly long neck but this heavy looking beast must have measured a foot at the back and more so in the front. It had an incorporated padded chin cup which was soon pushing my gaze skyward and adding to the gag's effectiveness. Unlike with the first corset, the lacing had to be started from scratch and it took some time and effort for our Matron to get her thick white rubber gloves to do the job. She eventually succeeded and continued tightening until I feared my already restricted breath would be cut off completely. At some point she desisted, having somehow found the perfect compromise. Knowing the ICRI, they had probably had the thing custom made to my exact measurements.
It was difficult to see what was happening with the blinders and neck corset but a very unusual looking pair of mittens were next on my 'birthday' agenda. Warden helped me pull the thick black rubber sleeve of one on, explaining that I had to insert my fingers into an internal glove that was hidden inside the large stiff rubber sphere of the mitt. It came right up to my elbow and she tightened the attached lacing to secure it. My hand was immobilized, curled up as though holding a ball. After the other one was in place a little pump bulb was fitted to a valve I hadn't seen and Warden squeezed it repeatedly, expanding a bladder inside the mitten and producing the most delightful feeling of helplessness. She repeated the procedure with my other mitten and I held my arms up in front of my raised head to get a better look at them. I was quite transfixed by the sight but more so by the wonderful sensation of having the most versatile appendage known reduced to a useless black rubber stump. Whilst my dresser busied herself in the wardrobe I stole the opportunity to rub one the big orbs against my lusting groin, proving that they weren't completely ineffectual after all.
The final piece of equipment was to be my riding boots. Perhaps my first memories of a sexual nature were centred on my Aunt who had a horse farm north of the city where I was raised. I would often stay there for a week or more at a time as a sort of vacation. Though I had yet to reach puberty I grew to love Aunty, but in a different way than with a Mother or an older sister. There was something special in her beauty that captivated me, particularly when she was dressed for an equestrian show. From her jaunty riding helmet to her tight jacket over a feminine blouse, to the fitted breeches to the mysteriously intriguing black leather riding boots, there was something magic about the whole ensemble. She would go to the tackroom which I found almost equally fascinating: all the pungent leather gear with its shiny metal hardware enamoured me for reasons I didn't yet understand. Watching my Aunt saddle and bridle a large horse then mount it, with crop in hand and spurs in place, left me feeling star-struck as she took complete control of the strong creature.
The half-inch heel of Aunt's boots were not part of Warden's plan for my special day though. In fact, she had decided that no heel at all would be more appropriate. I'd never really cared for the look of pony boots although I'd imagined that wearing them would be pleasantly restrictive. The moment I saw the pair destined for my feet however my feelings changed dramatically. They were by far the nicest I had ever seen and oozed that ephemeral ingredient of quality. The silhouette was much more feminine than some of the clunky awkward looking ones that I remembered seeing. These were knee high heavy black rubber with lacing all the way up in the front, accented by three evenly spaced one inch locking straps at the ankle, calf and just below the knee.
Warden had procured a stool for me perch upon whilst she set about the shoeing of her skittish filly. I couldn't actually see the procedure with my chin raised so high but I was very impressed by the weight and comfort of my new appendages. I later learned that the soles had embedded iron horseshoes which added much to the heft of the boots and made quite the racket when one walked, let alone trotted. Once my farrier was finished she helped me to my hooves and I found myself even more impressed by their quality. Despite holding me as high as possible on my toes without actually being en pointe, they were amazingly comfortable and supportive, at least in the short term. Not having a heel to fall back on made them that much more exciting to wear. I might have whinnied had my mouth not been otherwise occupied.
043 rose from the bench where she had been getting some well deserved rest and set about her tasks. For some reason I had assumed that my mask would be the first item on her agendum but she seemed in no hurry to allow me the privilege of breathing properly. Sitting me down from whence she had risen she removed my fins and promptly vanished with them, no doubt attending to returning them to the pristine condition they began the day in. The floors of the Institute(including the rarely used stairs) are kept in such a spotless state that I didn't fear it taking her very long. I felt strangely bereft with their removal however. I had somehow grown quite attached to my podiatric extensions and could still feel their presence like a phantom limb.
Returning, my dressing assistant removed the ankle weights which had caused her so much trouble and stored them away before removing the heavy belt from my waist as well. When she started to take off my gloves I couldn't help but think that she was intentionally delaying my access to the air I was in real need of. Next she undid the rubber straps from above and below my bosom and the more meaningful one from my groin. After detaching the hoses from the intake valve on my suit and the regulator on my mask she hoisted the metal tank from my back and helped me slip the shoulder straps down my arms as I learned the difference between not having enough air and having none at all. I managed to control my panic as 043 set the tank down not far away and in no particular rush returned and began to loosen the many straps of what might soon be my death mask. When the air began to leak through the edges of its seal I sucked so hard that I temporarily pulled the thing back in place and was again briefly breathless before the entire apparatus was raised up and off my much relieved head.
After tending to the mask 043 returned and we combined our efforts to coerce the big diagonal zipper of the drysuit to open and without too much trouble had its hood and neck seal over my head and off as well. I was finally back to my usual pink self where I had begun my day so many hours before. The souped-up wheelchair was waiting for me with the tablet resting on its seat. Once I'd been locked aboard by three of my four limbs I was again left alone as my dresser tended to the large heavy rubber suit that I was already looking forward to wearing again. I was far too exhausted to study but diligently reawakened the tablet in an effort to do so. The words and pictures swam before my eyes as if intentionally attempting to elude me. Surely six hours must have passed since I had arrived on Level 10 this morning for my first lesson. As I imagined Warden Sub 2 walking through the door to fetch me I relived my final moments with the alien goddess. Her tone as she had said 'precious Nanny' and the way she'd departed were bedevilling me. I gave up thinking about it and gazed at the swimming lessons of diving dancing on my lap. I think I was falling asleep. Dancing diving lessons swimming lapse. The door unlocked like an alarm clock and my ticket downstairs strode in.
Warden Sub 2 didn't speak until we were in the elevator where she inquired about the well-being of 043. I assured her she was fine but she let out a little gasp when told of the pirouettes. I sensed a very subtle awkwardness in my Keeper's voice, as though we weren't quite on the same emotional footing as before. Finally it dawned on my fluffy brain that there might be some sort of issue over the attentions I'd received from Warden 10, which also explained the alien goddess's behaviour in the last moments of our encounter. Without hesitation I blurted out my love for my Matron and welled up: the last thing I wanted was to cause anyone at the Institute to feel conflict, let alone her. She didn't say anything but as the elevator slowed to a stop on Level 4 her big white hand gently covered my mouth with such loving kindness that I knew my message had been sent and received, and that two-thirds of the triangle were at peace again.
Continues in chapter seven