THROUGH NIGHT TO LIGHT
By Sailor 861
Isabel Metcalfe felt older than 35 as she drove her 1974 Austin Mini Minor home that cool, summer night years ago on the Scottish west coast.
She was a free woman but a single, mysterious event during that drive into the countryside in June 1975 changed all that. Today, 28 years later, she has lived with chained ankles every day, coming and going in public and private with confidence and the illusion that long dresses afford her quirky love for steel bondage that was applied to her ankles so mysteriously, so absolutely.
Her husband, Peter, jokes with her privately she is the only 63-year-old Scot in captivity who enjoys having her ankles chained 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Isabel accepts this pleasantry with the realization that an 18-inch walking pace is normal for her and the chink-clink from her ankles as customary as breathing. She has given up counting the days, weeks and months she has been shackled permanently in chains and now accepts bondage as a part of everyday life.
But unknown to her that fateful night, an innocuous trip home would turn out to be a life-altering experience that would change her concept of freedom -- and the way she walked -- for the rest of her life. The event would also contribute to her becoming a sex slave to a group of mad genetics engineers in East Africa just a couple of short days afterward.
No one in Scotland had ever heard of a woman being chained against her will and, later, growing to love the feel of securely-chained ankles every day -- provided her bonds were hidden from public view. But Isabel had a hint of things to come; she and her lover were already into recreational bondage but a 24/7 lifestyle in chains for Isabel was yet the stuff of dreams for them.
It was June 11, 1975; she had just finished a 3 - 11 p.m. shift at the local mill and was driving home along a secondary highway, anxious to feel the embraces of her modest, new country bungalow, complete with live-in boyfriend, Peter, who had just emigrated to Scotland from Canada to be with her. She had acquired the land, he built the house for them and they were getting to know one another again after a year-long absence.
Isabel was reintroduced to a part-time life of having her ankles chained at nights and for continuous, 48-hour periods on the weekends. She stayed in the house or around their property on Saturdays and Sundays but she enjoyed her boyfriend's lighthearted banter about taking the "big step" by going in public with chains adorning her trim ankles.
Peter, a bondage aficionado, brought a pair of light, 24-inch ankle chains with him from Canada and Isabel had grown accustomed to their hard, implacable grasp early on. Tonight, she looked forward to having them snapped onto her ankles just before bedtime after a particularly boring shift in the mill. Making love with chained ankles was different for them at first but steamy, thrice-weekly sex sessions in bed - and the living room, kitchen or workshop - gave the happy couple ample opportunities to try every position in the book. Isabel's chained ankles were the spices to their sex life and they both enjoyed the feeling her restraints imparted. Their favourite position, Isabel recalled on her drive home, was for Peter to slip between her legs, underneath her chains, so that her cuffed ankles were taut against the small of his back with her knees widespread underneath him. Then she would mount him, tangling her two-ft. tether around his ankles, and then . . . .
Her uneventful evening shift intruded on her fantasy again and she felt tired as she continued along the rural highway. Again she thought about getting home, having a bath and a snack and then joining Peter in the living room for an hour of telly before retiring to bed and dreamland with ankles chained together until after breakfast next morning.
The little Austin purred along in third gear as she negotiated a slight incline and turn in the road that led into the craggy, undulating countryside. As she turned the small steering wheel, her underwire bra - which she preferred to keep Peter's attention on her 38-26-39 figure - dug into her for the hundredth time since she drove away from the grey, grimy mill and north out of the small Scottish railway town and seaport.
A native Scot, Isabel was as used to the vagaries of the Scottish climate as he was to the twists and turns in the five-mile-long rural highway trip from town to home.
She was dressed typically for the Scottish light-industrial workplace: comfortable loafers, wool slacks, a large, baggy sweater over a thin, translucent white silk blouse, which her boyfriend had brought her from Canada, and her shoulder-length light-brown hair was brushed gently away from the sides of her face.
Her five-ft. two-in. frame, still buxom and curvy despite two boys, turned slightly to the right as she slowed and eased her little "black box on wheels" onto the right shoulder of the highway to deal with the bra problem.
"Bloody bra," she said to herself in her Scottish lilt. "It's like some kind of bondage gear. Well, I'll soon set this aright." Braking, she put the car in park, pulled off her sweater and undid her blouse, reached around behind to unclasp the accursed garment and freed her pendulous, C-cup breasts for the first time that day.
"Ah-h-h, that's better," she said, as she massaged the red lines left underneath her breasts by the offending garment and ran her small hands over her dark-pink nipples as they grew erect in the cool confines of the little car.
She forgot to turn out the headlights but all they illumined was the fog rolling in off the Irish Sea. She knew she was alone on the highway, just a couple of miles from home. But was she?
She donned her silk blouse, noticing the two small-finger sized nubs that poked enticingly against the sleek, nearly see-through fabric, and the hairs on the back of her neck rose as she pulled on her brown sweater.
"Hmm, what's this all about?" she wondered, patting the back of her neck before shifting from park into first gear as the little car lurched back onto the black pavement.
She had just shifted into third gear when she saw a dim, oval object off in the rolling fog just ahead of her. It rose straight up, into the black-and-grey mottled night sky, before she had a chance to utter a gasp or word. It was out of sight again in a flash.
Stunned, Isabel drove off the highway for a second time and wondered if it was fatigue or her overactive imagination.
No-o, I don't believe in ghosts; I don't believe in flying saucers, ETs or any of that foolishness, she thought to herself.
Suddenly, a wide beam of high-intensity, white light, brighter than the noonday sun, blasted straight down out of the silent, starless sky, enveloping the little black Austin and its sole occupant, Isabel Metcalfe, a slim housewife on her way home after work. Her last awareness was that she was out of the car, rising easily and slowly through the night air and into the cavernous maw of an enormous spacecraft. She was unafraid and felt sedated as she heard and felt her ankles and wrists being fastened, with electronic beeps, whirs and clicks, spreadeagle in midair. Suddenly, her world turned black. She saw no one and heard nothing else.
Time passed and when she revived, she felt she had been anaesthetised -- she neither knew how much time had passed nor what had happened to her.
When she opened her eyes a moment later she was back in her car again, as though she had never left, dressed as before with her beige pushup bra on the passenger seat beside her and, despite a slight headache, dry throat and slight, sharp tingles in her nipples, she was all right. She looked around the car interior, out the windscreen and then down at the floor.
"Wha-at?! What's this," Isabel exclaimed suddenly, as she saw a small pile of sturdy, silver links between her feet and a vague yet familiar metallic grip around her ankles. She moved her feet from the floorboard toward the accelerator, brake and clutch pedals and saw just below her pantlegs that, indeed, her ankles were cuffed and chained in steel that gleamed dully in the car's weak interior lighting and the reflected headlight beams.
"How did this happen?" she cried. "Who did this?"
She opened her knees to gauge the length of her ankle chain and discovered it was only 18 inches. She lifted her pantleg to examine the cuff. It was steel, alright, two inches wide, about 1/8th-inch thick and fit so snugly around each ankle that she could barely get a fingernail between cuff and leg.
She picked at the gap between ankle and left cuff with her fingernail and saw the chain was fastened to the interior of each by a half-link incorporated seamlessly into the side of the shackle itself.
She also saw twin fading red marks left on her wrists by some unknown clamping devices and her heart leaped into her throat when she observed, seconds later, there were no hinges, locking mechanisms, bolts or rivet heads to be seen on the ankle cuffs' cool silver surfaces.
"What bloody prankster did this to me?" Isabel exclaimed. She snapped the car's ignition key off and swivelled as she opened the car door to investigate her surroundings.
Getting out of the car was the first problem; the 18-inch chain instantly hobbled her left foot as she placed it down onto the pavement and she had to put both feet down, awkwardly at first, then slide herself out of the car seat and into an upright position.
She held onto the car's bonnet with her right hand as she balanced herself on her chained feet for the first time that night. It wasn't the hardest thing she had ever done;
Isabel was somewhat used to chains and cuffs -- Peter loved putting his Scottish woman's trim ankles in chains every night ritually just after she put on her nightgown -- but this was entirely different. She was used to taking comfortable, 24-inch strides snubbed by chains that were locked on her by someone she loved.
Her stride now was six inches shorter than they would otherwise have been about this time and the chains were fastened to her in an unknown process by someone she would never know.
A clammy fear engulfed her as she looked around the murky darkness which glowed eerily in the Austin's two little headlights and saw and heard only black silence beyond.
She took her first, tentative step toward the front of the car and felt and heard her 18-inch chain grow taut suddenly.
"Oh my, this is going to be hard," Isabel said. "But by golly, I'm going to find out who did this to me and why."
Although she had some practice walking with measured, chained steps - every night her boyfriend would watch admiringly as she walked about the bedroom, down the hallway, into the kitchen or bathroom and back -- by the time she had taken three steps to the driver-side front fender she was panting with fright and excitement.
These new chains felt different from those she wore every night to bed and during her off-duty weekends. They just felt different -- more implacable, more inescapable - than the pair of shackles that hung in the same place she put them this morning, on a hook affixed to the inside wall of her walk-in closet.
Five more steps, her links rattling against the pavement with a high-pitched chink-clink, and she was around behind the car, looking down the hill -- seeing absolutely nothing but black, starless sky and a grey countryside. She looked down at her feet for the second time in the minute or so that had elapsed since her discovery and became more puzzled about the sudden, unexplained appearance of sturdy, solid ankle chains on her legs just moments away from home. How? Why? she asked herself as she continued to walk around to the driver's side. Isabel sat down on the driver's seat and lifted her legs into the boxy, little car with a clink and rattle of chain.
Her mind was turmoil as she shifted into first gear, snagging her ankle chain between the clutch and brake pedals, and continued the remaining mile home. She had never driven a car in chains before and knew she needed help - fast.
The trim, white, three-bedroom bungalow, with the living-room light on, loomed quickly on her left, as usual, and Isabel wondered how she was going to explain her new accoutrements to Peter she turned into the driveway.
She parked the car in the driveway, shut off the headlights, turned off the ignition, opened the car door and noticed the sharp tingle in her breasts again as they swayed gently side to side as she swivelled awkwardly out of the car again.
Her 18-inch strides impeded her progress up the front-porch stairs, forcing her to lift one leg, then the other, up the four steps to the front-door landing. Unlocking the door, she saw Peter sitting in his favourite living-room chair watching television.
She began to sob. "Peter, you won't believe what happened to me tonight. I was driving home, stopped for a minute and that was the last thing I remember.
"When I came to again, I was still in the car - dunno where I was before - and had these around my feet." She looked at him then bent forward to lift her trouser legs to display her trim, chained ankles. Again, a little tingle in her nipples distracted her as her breasts joggled forward underneath her sweater and blouse as she stood up again, meeting Peter's concerned look at her legs.
"What on earth?" Peter exclaimed, as he rose quickly to kneel at her feet for a closer examination of her bondage. "Who did this to you and why?"
"I don't know," Isabel wailed, "and I don't know how they come off. There's no lock."
Peter looked more closely at his distraught partner, then at the cuffs, and confirmed for himself there was only one way to get these off her. He wondered whether this experience would put them both off bondage for good. He hoped not.
"Come, sit down Isabel; let's think this through," he said, as he guided her halting steps to the couch.
"Let's get these off and I'll go back down the road to check the area where you were," Peter said. "I've got some boltcutters and a hacksaw downstairs that should be able to cut that chain. It looks like only 3/16ths to me."
Peter disappeared into the basement workshop as Isabel put her feet on the coffee table, looking once again at her chains in a mixture of fear and grudging admiration for the mysterious way she was shackled and for their obvious quality and implacability. She was, after all, no stranger to ankle chains and this set was by far the best pair she had ever seen.
"These are no ordinary police cuffs, Clejusos, Hiatt's or VOPOs or whatever they're called," she said with Gaelic feminine certitude. "I know what they look like in the Police Gazette and these are definitely not at all like those in the pictures . . . and they don't even vaguely resemble ours."
Peter ran back upstairs, tools in hand, and sat on the coffee table facing his woman. "Right, let's see if this will cut 'em," he said, as he fixed the boltcutter's jaws over the half-link attached to her left cuff. He pressed the tool's arms together and strained as the jaws closed hard against the half-link. Nothing.
He increased pressure on the tool's arms but the carbon-steel jaws failed to bite into the strong silver link. His arms and wrists began to spasm with strain as he increased force on the boltcutter arms, expecting a metallic snap when the cutter's jaws would break the chain. But only the silly chatter of a television talk show filled the room.
"Hm-m," Peter said, as he removed the tool and knelt to look closely at where the jaws should at least have left a small impression. He ran his finger over the smooth half-link and found an unblemished surface. "There's not even a mark, Isabel. I"ll try the hacksaw but if the cutters didn't leave a trace then the saw will likely come up naught."
Two passes of the hacksaw proved that theory correct. Peter placed the saw on the floor and they both sat on the couch, looking at the tools, the chains and each other.
"Well, they're on for the night, anyway," Peter said hopefully. "I'll look for a bigger set of cutters tomorrow in town." Isabel nodded, failing to realize her bondage predicament had suddenly became far more serious than she first thought.
Neither was in the mood for television or their usual bondage games that night but Peter consoled his frightened woman by putting an arm around her shoulder and giving her a kiss on the cheek.
Isabel, returning his embrace, turned to face him and Peter caressed her soft breast through her sweater and blouse. His fingers traced a small circle around her left nipple and he noticed a hard, circular shape on the lower curve of her breast.
"What's this, Isabel? Did you have your nipples pierced over your supper break today?" said Peter half-jokingly.
"No, I certainly did not," she said, drawing away, astonished he would change the subject so quickly. She put her hands under her sweater to feel through the silk blouse the silver rings that now adorned her nipples.
"The bastards even pierced these!" she cried, as she lifted her sweater to investigate further. "My God, what else have they done to me? And how am I going to get undressed for bed with these on?" She raised her ankles as the chain depended gracefully from between her ankle cuffs onto the coffee table.
"Scissors?" Peter said helpfully.
"I dunno, I guess so," Isabel said reluctantly. "I'm so tired; let's go to bed. "
Peter went into the kitchen to get sturdy scissors and an Eversharp knife to remove her pants and came into the bedroom, tools in hand, as Isabel sat on her side of the double bed with a small clink.
"What're you going to wear tomorrow, Is.?" Peter asked, as Isabel stood to allow him to begin cutting up her pantleg, emergency-room style, then the other leg. With her trouser legs in halves, he cut through the waistband with the knife and the pants fell in a heap around her chained ankles. Her then turned his attention to her panties and they fell quickly about her ankles, too.
"Skirt, probably," she said. "A long one, too," as she pulled off her sweater and unbuttoned her blouse. Her bra-less, pendulous breasts fell heavily revealing to the dumbstruck pair her perfectly-pierced nipples. Peter looked closely at the rings, which gleamed to match her ankle cuffs, and noted the gauge and diameter of the rings. There was no question he was not going to attempt to remove these, he said to himself, as Isabel looked down at her ringed nipples in a mixture of dismay and disbelief.
"No wonder they are so tender," she said finally, lifting her hands away from her breasts. "How did they do this? And why are they not sorer than they are?"
Peter examined the seamless,12-gauge, 11/2-inch silver rings inserted horizontally with surgical precision through her nipples and said:
"No storefront piercer did this."
"Piercer indeed," Isabel replied. "Look at me now. I'm chained, my tits are pierced and you say no storefront wank did this! Well, who?" she asked despairingly for the fourth time.
Peter did not reply as Isabel clinked away, naked as a newborn, to get her nightgown from the closet. She slipped it over her head, noting the smooth silky caress of the fabric as it slid past her now-sensitive, newly-ringed nipples.
She glanced at herself in the mirror behind the closet door, noting her tear-smudged face, the graceful fall of the floor-length nightgown she was so fond of, the telltale points of her erect nipples poking through the bodice with hints of the new, shiny steel rings around each and, further down, where the bottom hem of the nightgown met her ankles, the implacable chains, put on her by persons unknown, that she would wear that night and evermore.
She got into bed and her man followed her. Both were soon asleep.
The electronic alarm of the bedside clock sounded off sharply at 7 a.m. but both had been awake for half an hour, each wondering about last night's bizarre encounter and what they would have to do to free her ankles. Steps to remove her nipple adornments would be postponed, they agreed, until they dealt with the ankle chains first. After all, she had to go to work, she had errands to run and she couldn't very well traipse around town like a chained criminal, could she? Well, could she?
"Isabel, this is a long shot," Peter said finally, "but I know someone at the University of Edinburgh who might be able to help. Also, we'll drive by the spot where you say this happened to you and I'll check for clues. Maybe the police should get involved?"
"First of all, no constabulary," Isabel replied. "Second, who is this guy at Edinburgh, anyway?"
She had been thinking of how she was going to explain her chains to one of those dyke-looking female constables downtown and, worse, having to walk in public with chain-shortened steps. "And how do we get there with me like this? Edinburgh is an hour and 15 minutes away, remember."
"Let me call ahead and see if Michael is in today," Peter replied. "He's a teaching assistant of metallurgy in the engineering faculty and he may be able to help. I really don't think bigger boltcutters are going to work and we saw what a hacksaw was able to do last night. I can just tell him I bought these cuffs on mail order and put them on you as a joke. Some joke, I know, but this might be our only hope.
"He deals with the rapid spot-checking of metals and has access to some lab equipment and portable x-ray machines that might be able to help. I met him in Tennant's pub last week and he was telling me about spectroscopy and . . . ."
"Alright, alright," Isabel said. "Let me think about this. I have to go to the University of Edinburgh in chains, meet this total stranger and have him look at these cuffs that appeared on me as if from outer space so that he might be able to tell you what sort of steel these are made of? I don't think so."
"What are our choices?" Peter replied. "I don't think I can get them off for you and I don't think MacEwan's hardware has anything in stock that might touch that steel. You may be right -- these may very well be the shackles from outer space," he said with a laugh as Isabel swung her legs out of bed to greet the foggy early June morning.
Taking her short steps to the bedroom window, she looked out onto the front lawn and to her right, down the narrow, paved road, where her adventure began several hours ago. She felt her breasts with still-sensitive, ringed nipples pendulous against the front of her long blue nightgown as she leaned against the cool window pane.
"Alright," she said, turning to face Peter. "Call your friend and say that you need his help to get these cuffs off. I'll wear one of my long summer dresses so I won't be a spectacle. And get me as close to the front door as possible.
"There are no steps to that engineering building, are there?" she asked.
Peter didn't know but he would ask Dr. Michael Ledstone, metallurgy TA at Edinburgh University.
Isabel donned her housecoat and scuffed her slippered, chained way into the kitchen to prepare breakfast. She noticed her breasts swayed provocatively with her shorter strides making her feel just a little sexier, despite the lack of sex last night.
Sitting at the kitchen table, with the telephone between the two of them, she idly crossed her knees and wagged her left foot nervously. She felt the chain, tugging at her ankles, as she usually did when her ankles were chained on weekends. But this tugging was foreign, scary. The silver-grey, oblong links were longer and heavier than the lighter, shorter links she was used to and the cuffs were fused solidly and expertly onto her legs, just above the ankle bones, somehow. She felt as though she might cry but she forced herself to keep her cool.
She poured them two cups of coffee from the percolator on the table, stirred her coffee and looked at the telephone, then the kitchen clock. It was just after 8 a.m. and they had seven hours to get to Edinburgh and back in time for her to start her 3 - 11 shift.
"What time does he get in?" Isabel asked with growing anxiety.
"Probably about this time," Peter replied. He had brought Michael's business card to the kitchen table, looked at it and dialled the number.
Peter lucked in and a short conversation ensued during which Michael said he would be glad to see the two of them in his lab over the noonhour.
Peter relayed this news to Isabel and she reluctantly agreed to go with him to Edinburgh to have a stranger look at her cuffs. I don't even know this fellow, she thought, and here I am, going to present myself to him in chains.
"I wonder if these damn things rust," Isabel said, as she rose from the kitchen table to walk into the bathroom to shower and get dressed for this eventful day. She clinked down the hallway into the en suite bath, undressed, sat on the edge of the tub and swung her legs in to a loud rattle of chain on the porcelain tub and turned on the shower.
"Yikes!" she yelped, as the hot spray stung her sensitive, ringed nipples, turning her back to the shower stream. "I guess I'll have to shower like this for awhile," she thought glumly.
Emerging into the steamy bath minutes later, she dried herself off, towelling down her legs and patted dry the cuffs and chain before patting her tender breasts with the rough white towel.
Putting on her dressing gown, she walked into the bedroom to start dressing. Tights? No. Panties. Hmm. Nope. Breasts to sensitive for that bra; anyway, it's still in the car.
She decided on a wool pullover, last night's white blouse, her long, black summer dress and sandals.
She thought she might look like a 1970s bra-less university student instead of a workaday woman. She could live with the look and feel of her swaying breasts, she thought, but her breast jewellery and ankle hardware were to be hidden from public view at all costs.
Fully dressed, she looked at herself again in the mirror. Hm-m, she thought, not bad. Breasts a little loose, a bit saggy, but the sweater will hide 'em. My skirt is long enough to cover the chains but, oh, those nipples, she remembered from the shower.
Peter soon emerged, showered and shaven, from the bathroom and dressed in slacks, sweater and shirt. Isabel lightly made up her face and, soon, they were out of the house, Peter slowing his walk so Isabel could hurry along with her little, chained strides. Peter helped her down the front steps and into the car and they were soon on their way to investigate the site of last night's incident then onward to Edinburgh, a little over an hour away. It was 9:15 a.m. so they had lots of time to get there, find the building and hear what Dr. Michael Ledstone, PhD, MEng, had to say about Isabel's shackles.
Two minutes down the road, Peter braked at the roadside at Isabel's insistence and both emerged from the little car to look at the road and gravel shoulders.
The warm June sunshine felt good on Isabel's and Peter's shoulders and backs as they walked around a few yards, looking at the gravel, the pavement and the hilly fields beyond for any trace of Isabel's close encounter of a third kind. Peter again slowed his step to Isabel's hobbled progress in her long skirt but after 10 minutes of looking -- for what neither knew -- they got back into the car and continued southeast to Edinburgh.
Isabel secretly hoped this metallurgist could not find a way to get her ankle chains off.
"How do you find walking in those, Is., compared to the ones I brought over?" Peter asked as Isabel watched the countryside roll by.
"They're still scary," she replied. "My steps are shorter than ever and I'm always reminded they're there. And they're heavier, too."
The couple were quiet for most of the trip, each immersed in their own thoughts. Peter was hopeful the shackles would stay and that Isabel would come to accept them. When he first produced the chains he brought with him from Canada, he recalled, Isabel shyly bared her ankles for him, opening her shapely legs slightly as he knelt before her at the bedside one night not long ago. The two snaps that followed were almost music to their ears.
Isabel's thoughts, however, were more prosaic:
If the chains could not be removed, maybe she would be able to resign her boring job with "just cause," retire, maybe even draw Workers' Compensation and look after the house as Peter's 'chained thrall'. She smiled grimly to herself as she wondered:
What will it be like doing housework in chains? (Probably take a little longer). What happens if I get pregnant? (Talk to my doctor). How do I do the gardening, get the groceries,go bowling or make love with chained ankles? (All in good time, Is.). How in hell do these chains come off, anyway? (Dunno. Yet).
Isabel's imagination was still in full flight when Peter finally located the University of Edinburgh's engineering faculty and parked the little car in a visitor's spot just to the right of an enormous concrete staircase that led to a pair of imposing front doors. Peter did not tell Is. about the steps.
"Great, just what I need," Isabel thought, as she swung her legs out, keeping her ankles quietly together as she stood up and away from the car in the small university parking lot. Walking in public in daytime with chained ankles was not going to be the scary experience she thought it would be, as long as Peter held her arm, she thought.
Together, they mounted the stairs, Isabel taking each one step at a time, giving a good impression of walking with a sprained ankle, and Peter held her left arm carefully as he opened the door for her.
"Oh, good gosh, no," Isabel muttered quietly to Peter as her chains made a soft, chink-schink as they made their way along the terrazzo passageway into the laboratory area. There was no one in the hallway and Peter found Lab D-265 easily just before 12 noon, the appointed time. Peter knocked on the brown wood door and Dr. Ledstone opened it, welcoming both inside with a smile and gesture.
After Peter briefly explained the situation, the TA asked Isabel to have a seat at his desk near the front of the lab and the 40-year-old metallurgist put on his glasses to have a closer look.
Dr. Ledstone pulled his chair closer as Isabel lifted the hem of her long, black skirt a few inches to afford him a view of her trim ankles, chained now for just over half a day.
"And you said you got these where, Peter?" Ledstone asked, looking up as Isabel blushed crimson by revealing her chained status to a stranger for the first time.
"On mail order, Michael," Peter said. "Some company somewhere in Europe."
"Hm, well-made. Sturdy. I wonder who makes these?" Ledstone asked.
'No idea," Peter said in his first honest admission of the day. "We just filled in an order form from Police Gazette, mailed it and this is what we got back in the post.
"Unfortunately, when I put them on Isabel - we were going to a masquerade party, me as a sheriff and Is. as my prisoner - we couldn't get them off again afterwards," Peter said dishonestly.
"I see," said Ledstone, not believing a word. "You know, there doesn't appear to be any locking mechanism; no fastening, seam or weld anywhere. The cuffs appear to be solid-unit construction and I can't see any other way but to cut them.
"Did you try boltcutters or a hacksaw?"
The reply was affirmative and Ledstone thought for a moment. "Let me try my scope to see what sort of metal we are dealing with and I'll also x-ray them to see the structure and what's inside. Can you walk into the lab next door, ma'am?" he asked politely.
"Yes, I'll try," Isabel said, smoothing her skirt down over her ankles. "Is there anyone in the hallway just now?"
Peter and Michael looked out and saw the long hallway was still empty. Classes were out for an early lunch and the three rose and walked together across the hall into an adjacent lab. Dr. Ledstone motioned Isabel to sit on another chair near a bank of machines and electronics arrays. He then brought out and adjusted a portable machine that looked like an x-ray device. Placing it over Isabel's ankles, he flicked some switches and the machine began to hum. "There's no need to worry; there's less radiation in this little puppy than there is in the x-ray machines you find in hospitals," said Ledstone.
"The first test, called a spectrograph, will give us an idea what kind of material we are dealing with, such as its properties and chemical attributes; the second will give an actual look inside the cuffs for a locking mechanism. It will also image your bones underneath the cuffs, in case you're interested, Ms. Metcalfe."
Isabel sat quietly with her ankles propped on a low table underneath the apparatus as Ledstone ran his tests. A few moments later, the tests results were printed out on a nearby teleprinter.
Dr. Ledstone looked quietly at the two pages of data, red-circled some paragraphs and put the pages down to look at the x-ray images.
Taking off his glasses, he looked at the man and woman and said, quietly, "these tests show that the metal or alloys your shackles are made of, Isabel, are not identifiable with the Periodic Table of Elements; in other words, they are made of some metal that is unknown to science; at least this is what my data tell me. The x-ray also reveals they are, indeed, solid-unit construction.
"Where on earth did you get these? We need to run more tests."
Isabel's heart sank but Peter's rising bulge in his pants just got harder when he heard the metallurgist's news. Shackles of unknown origin, unknown construction and, so far, no apparent means of getting them off his sweetheart's ankles. It was his dream come true!
"Isabel, perhaps you could tell your side of the story," Ledstone asked quietly. Step by step, the 35-year-old mother of two recounted the previous night's experience during the drive home -- from leaving the mill to awakening in the car in chains about an hour later -- before choking out to the two men: "Do you mean there's no way of getting these off?"
Ledstone looked at her as a doctor would with his patient, and said: "The tests we have run today show these are no normal restraints. The steel, or whatever they are made of, is an unknown; the chain is of the same material, apparently, and the x-rays; well, I've told you what they have shown. The only good news I can tell you is that they are not radioactive.
"The cuffs apparently have been fused on in some process that could have involved extreme heat but there are no visible indications, such as a weld, on the surface, or in the x-rays, to suggest this.
"Isabel," he adcded quickly. "Could I arrange for you to see some of my colleagues and professors of metallurgy here at the University of Edinburgh? At our cost, of course."
Ledstone did not want to tell the attractive woman sitting before him that she may have to wear her newly-acquired ankle chains indefinitely, or at least until science unlocked the mysteries of her harder-than-steel cuffs.
Peter and Isabel thanked Dr. Ledstone for his time, said they would think about meeting his colleagues and left the lab area.
Isabel shuffled along in her long skirt and felt her breasts jostling under her sweater as she tried hard to avoid the glances of students and staff returning in groups and singly from lunch. Maybe they thought she was a mature student with bad knees or a sprained ankle but Isabel today felt like an unwilling prisoner. Peter felt sorry for his woman's plight yet, secretly, was pleased that it could not have happened to a better gal.
"What do we do now?" Isabel asked.
Well, I'm hungry, for starters," Peter replied. "There's the Locksmith's Arms just down the street from the university. Would you like to get a bite and pint there before going home?"
"I'm in chains already and I'm not even fully dressed," Isabel replied. "I can't go into a pub in broad daylight like this! It was a struggle just to get to see Dr. Ledstone. And how am I going to get to work this afternoon? People would wonder why I'm wearing a long dress around the mill."
Peter stopped before they made the long descent down the staircase, just inside the front doors, and said: "Isabel, you look beautiful. You always look gorgeous in chains, day or night, and I can't see them underneath that skirt. The only trace is that slight sound the chains makes on the floor.
"Let's give the pub a try. I don't think anyone will notice."
Isabel nodded quietly as they emerged into the June sunlight that gleamed off the university building's glass front doors.
Arm in arm, they began their slow descent down the 25 broad, concrete steps into the campus. It was June 12, 1975, and Isabel Metcalfe's life in permanent bondage had jut begun.
As they drove away to find the pub further downtown, Dr. Ledstone pulled a page from his IBM Selectric typewriter. It would be the first of many secret memos that would pass between him and his seniors that day and for weeks thereafter.
SECRET - TO BE DELIVERED BY HAND ONLY
UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH
Faculty of Engineering
12 June 1975
TO: Dr. Bramwell Stoker
Dean, Faculty of Engineering
FROM: Dr. Michael Ledstone
TA, Metallurgy Division
SUBJECT: DISCOVERY OF METAL-LIKE SUBSTANCE NOT
FOUND IN THE PERIODIC TABLE OF ELEMENTS
1. At 1200 hrs, 12 June 1975, I was visited by a man and woman in Laboratory D-265 of the Metallurgy Division, Faculty of Engineering, for advice on how to remove a pair of ankle cuffs from the woman's legs.
2. The woman, Isabel, a Scot, and her companion, Peter, a Canadian, explained they had ordered the restraints through the post from some company in Europe, which they could not identify, and that he had put them on her ankles for a masquerade with no forethought about how to take them off again. When I pressed the woman for more details, she told a fantastic story that she had been kidnapped on a rural highway near their home the night before (11 June 1975) by extraterrestrials, put in bondage, rendered unconscious and when she awoke an undetermined time later, found the shackles on her ankles.
3. I found both stories entirely implausible and thought, at first, this was some practical joke being foisted upon this division.
4. However, when I ran a spectrograph and x-ray tests on the restraints, I discovered the shackles were made of a metal or alloy not found in the Periodic Table of Elements and that the cuffs, 1.5-in. wide, 1/8th-in. thick with an 18-in. length of 3/16th-in. chain secured to the cuffs by half links, are of solid-unit construction; i.e.: no locks, hinges, hasps, rivet heads or bolts were found anywhere on the shackle cuffs. Copies of the spectrograph and x-ray reports are attached for your information.
5. The gentleman, who later withdrew his story, said he tried to cut the chain from the cuffs the night before, using boltcutters and a hacksaw, but indicated neither tool had made so much as a dent in the surface. I confirmed this on visual inspections of each.
6. They left the building at about 1300 hrs and said they would consider my request for a conference with you and other faculty members about their unusual circumstance and this extraordinary discovery. I have their telephone number and address, should we need to contact them again.
7. Following are my critical points:
* The metal, or alloy, of these shackles appears to be steel-like but the material defies identification by spectrograph and is, therefore, not defined in the periodic table of elements;
* it is too early to say what sort of metal, or alloy, the devices are made of and I do not know of any further tests that could be done to identify the material and its properties, such as hardness, tensile strength, corrosion resistance and radioactivity;
* it appears they have been fitted to the woman's ankles by a heating process that is unknown to me, as a metallurgist with 25 years of experience, and I am at a loss to know how they could be removed;
* it is suggested the heads of departments of the engineering faculty convene to discuss this discovery further and ask the woman and her companion if they would submit to interviews and further, detailed examination/experimentation to identify the material and structure of her restraints;
* the woman says she is employed at a wool-products mill on the west coast of Scotland and makes about three pounds (UK) an hour. I would suggest we discuss ways how to bring her to us by offering her term employment as a subject for further engineering, metallurgical and other physical tests on her restraints; and
* news of this discovery, if leaked, would create a crush of news media activity at the university which should be avoided at all costs at this time in the interests of preserving confidentiality and impartiality should scientific investigation be considered, approved and initiated. If, however, we find a way how to remove these chains from the woman (should she so desire them to be taken off), then perhaps an official announcement could be made. News coverage accruing to the engineering faculty would be of a scientific, investigative nature at first, I expect, which would devolve subsequently to human-interest stories and pickup by the tabloid press, magazines and so on. Either way, news coverage of our initiatives in dealing with this woman's situation would be in the best interests of our longstanding public image.
I look forward to your reply. Ext. 265.
Michael Ledstone, PhD, M.Eng