A Red Guard’s Tale: Part 1

A Red Guard’s Tale

Copyright © 2020, Dave Potter




 … and so the Empress Dowager Cixi, seeing the influence that this beautiful concubine was having upon the young emperor, and recognising that that influence would only increase with time, did cause the poor girl to be charged with adultery and thus sentenced to a most horrible punishment. Rather than merely strangling the girl as was customary, she did employ a skilled surgeon to remove all of her limbs and then sew the wounds up, leaving only a torso with a head. Then, the girl was immured within a large ceramic jar which was placed in the hallway leading to the chambers of Cixi herself. Every day, as the cause of her misfortune passed by, the girl had to thank the Empress Dowager for her great mercy, a task that she never failed in, for her younger sisters had also been taken to the palace and the same fate awaited them if she failed…

The young man lifted his head from the ancient book and returned back to the real world. No longer was he in the opulent palace in the great Northern Capital, but instead back in a musty library in provincial Changsha. Although he hated imperialism and the shame on China that it had spawned, he had to admit that the Empress Dowager had style. To immure her hated enemy in a pot and taunt her daily as the decades passed and her charms faded. Yes, she’d had style.

His face clouded as he thought of the people who ignored him, who looked down on him for his origins, who did not realise who he was and what he was going to achieve. One day he, like Madame Cixi, would rise from humility to greatness. One day he would mete out justice and revenge with as much style as she had.

He stood up and walked out of the library. As he was exiting, the pretty daughter of Landowner Hu walked past. He bowed at her but she did not even acknowledge his presence.

Part One

May 1966

“The world is yours, as well as ours, but in the last analysis, it is yours. You young people, full of vigour and vitality, are in the bloom of life, like the sun at eight or nine in the morning. Our hope is placed on you … The world belongs to you. China’s future belongs to you.”

A million fists punched the air in response and a million cheers swelled up into the sky. In the middle of them was the defiant fist and exultant cry of me, Zhang Hu, student at Changsha University and committed Red Guard.

“To rebel is justified!” roared the crowd.

The distant man on the podium waved.

“We will destroy of the Four Olds!”

Never before in my life had I felt such pride, such joy, such a sense of purpose. My heart poured out with adoration to that distant Chairman on the podium who was leading the revolution on to its rightful conclusion; who was steering China to a glorious future.

My grandfather had been a landowner, but my father had rebelled. He’d taken his bag and left, headed into the mountains and joined the ragtag band of communists who were marching through the country, away from the nationalist tyrants, committed to establishing a brighter tomorrow, committed to a future in which the East is Red.

And when they had won their most improbable of victories in 1948, he had been forgiven his family’s bourgeois history and had joined the ranks of the revolutionaries now rebuilding the Motherland.

Sadly, he perished in an explosion at a makeshift iron furnace during the Great Leap Forward, but his demise in the cause of socialism had caused our family’s star to rise even further and, despite my middling grades, I was given a place in the university, the first female of our family to attend. My grandmother and mother, their feet bound to immobility, had been immured within the walls of the home, but I was of the new generation of revolutionaries, free and confident and eternally dedicated to Mao Tse-Tung Thought.

Which is why I had jumped on the train to Beijing in my green uniform and red-starred cap and was now punching the air with a million other comrades.

And so engrossed in the spectacle was I, that I never noticed the high-ranking party official observing me from the side-lines. “Who is she?” he asked the comrade standing next to him.

“Which one?”

“The exceptionally pretty one there, with the pigtails, big tits and nicely-shaped bottom.”

“I shall find out Comrade Director.”

“Have her report to me tomorrow morning at my office.”

I had no idea why I’d been summoned by my troupe leader after breakfast in our dormitory and ordered to report to the Central Cultural Committee on the Road for Eternal Revolution, but as a dedicated communist, I obeyed unquestioningly. At the grand stone building – which I had some trouble finding – I was shown into the office of Comrade Wang, the Director of Operatic Arts and found myself in a large office sitting across from a rather leery-looking man who chain-smoked cigarettes and smiled at me creepily. “Comrade Zhang, so good to see you. Thank you for coming. At the rally yesterday, the moment I saw you, I thought, yes, there, that is our girl!”

“Thank you, Comrade,” I replied, not having a clue what he was on about.

“Have you ever acted, Comrade Zhang?”

“No Comrade, apart from in a school play depicting the heroic women’s detachment of Hainan Island who repelled the nationalist aggressors against overwhelming odds, I have never acted.”

“And what role did you play in that stirring revolutionary epic?”

“I was a soldier, Comrade. I did not speak, only shoot.”

“Then the dramatic director had no vision. He should be criticised. You exude talent, Comrade Zhang, that is clear to me and I have been casting and directing revolutionary plays and operas since the Long March when I was one of the comrades who accompanied our esteemed Chairman on his revolutionary road. Comrade Zhang, I would like to offer you a position in my latest work which is a production of ‘The Legend of the Red Lantern’. What do you say?”

“Comrade Director, I only want to serve the revolution, the Motherland and the Chairman. If this is how the Party wants me to serve, then this is how I shall serve!”

“Excellent! You have a correct revolutionary attitude, Comrade Zhang.” He got up and walked over to me and, to my surprise and, I am ashamed to say, slight revulsion, stroked my cheek. “We are embarking upon a new era in China’s history. We are undergoing a Cultural Revolution and the best place to serve it is in culture. I see this clearly. In the past only famous actresses and actors were allowed to star in films and operatic plays. But in our revolutionary age, it is more correct to pluck ideologically sound youngsters off the street and give them the chance to shine. You shall move into our production building immediately. Be happy my dear, you will be under my personal tuition.”

On that day my life changed out of all recognition. I did not return to Changsha and instead moved into the accommodation of the Cultural Committee. This meant larger rations and the food that I was now eating seemed to be both tastier and of a higher quality than the proletarian gruel that I usually subsisted on. Even this though, was not such a great change as my new sleeping arrangements. They were a world away from the spartan dormitory that I had shared with the other students in Changsha. Now, I had my own room, properly furnished and with a large double bed covered with clean sheets. At first I thought that it was a mistake; the other girls in the troupe all slept in a dormitory only slightly better than the one I had left, but when I protested, I was told that the Party looks after those who love it and that I, as a genuine Red Guard and communist performer, had been allocated this superior room.

Who was I to question the wisdom of the Party?

But if the bedroom gave me security and sanctity at night, my days had none. Although I was allocated a relatively minor part in the play, Director Wang spent an inordinate amount of time coaching me, usually on a one-to-one basis. And those sessions regularly involved him going further than a theatre director usually would. He would sit me on his knee as I learned my lines and, distressingly, I could feel his erect thing pressing through the folds of his trousers. At the time, I was a young and entirely innocent girl when it came to the ways of the world and the continued proximity to a man disturbed me. Furthermore, as the time passed, his attentions only grew. He would stroke my hair and cheek and then started to kiss me occasionally, firstly on the cheek or forehead and then, whenever we met or parted, on the lips. Also, as the weeks passed, he would make comments about my new rations causing me to “fill out nicely” and then he would praise the curves of my hips or breasts which he would often brush his hand against as if by accident. My mind was in turmoil about this. He was such a kind man and a respected member of the Party, yet I had also heard that he was married and, indeed, had seen his wife in the theatre on a couple of occasions. Finally, to still my mind, I asked him if what we were doing was appropriate and, to my surprise, he simply laughed and declared, “My dear, such thoughts are not worthy of a revolutionary daughter of China! Marriage is a bourgeois notion, as too is that of separation between male and female comrades. Indeed, they are Old Thoughts, one of the detested Four Olds which we strive ceaselessly to destroy. Indeed, if there is any impropriety in our relationship, it is that it is not close enough and, if we were to really walk the revolutionary road, we should both fully embrace our natural and entirely correct socialist feelings and become closer still. There would be no better way of demonstrating our dedicated to Mao Tse-Tung Thought.”

And so, that night, in my fine double bed, I lost my virginity.

My star continued to rise. Despite a somewhat lacklustre performance in ‘The Legend of the Red Lantern’ and another mediocre performance in a minor role in ‘Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy’ (I was a female soldier with trousers and a jacket that were excessively tight around my bottom and chest), I was lauded in the press and received awards from the Party. Then came my third performance, ‘Fragrant Flower in a Stagnant Pool’, an opera based on the reactionary regime of Hongwu Emperor, the first of the Ming Dynasty rulers. He was infamous for having a huge harem of concubines, whom he treated with absolute cruelty, keeping them locked in a gilded cage and torturing them regularly as well as using them for his personal pleasure. I was to play Mei, a beautiful girl from a village who was spotted by the emperor, forced to come to Beijing and transformed into a concubine. She then had to act as a dancer and sexual slave for the Hongwu Emperor before, at the end, secretly poisoning him for being an oppressive tyrant who exploited the working masses. However, upon his death, my poor character then suffered the ignoble fate of being buried alive with the emperor and thirty-seven of her fellow concubines, the opera finishing with the stone being placed on the tomb and us actresses singing a woeful song about how the people’s burden is a heavy one and how we pray for a great leader to liberate all workers and peasants from such tyrants.

The opera, unlike the others, was not for public consumption – due to it depicting some extremely reactionary times and politicians, exposure to which could corrupt some weak minds I was told – and instead was a private performance for elite members of the Communist Party. When we began rehearsing, I was most surprised – and unhappily so – as the role was quite different to those I had played before. Although, most of the role required me to wear the elaborate and beautiful clothes of a concubine of that era, in several scenes I was made to strip entirely naked and simulate sex scenes with the actor who was playing the emperor. Thankfully, he was a somewhat handsome and considerate man, but it was most embarrassing and shame-making to have to cavort like that on a stage in front of a large room full of strange men and, as I acted, I had to continue repeating over and over again in my mind the mantra, ‘I am doing this for the good of the Party! I am doing this for the good of the Chairman! I am doing this for the good of the Revolution!’ Such thoughts helped stay my mind a little, but it was still difficult.

At the end of the first performance though, the applause was rapturous and, as the faux tomb was taken away and we gave our final bow to the audience, the Chairman himself came onto the stage and congratulated us all, giving me a kiss on the cheek and a squeeze of the buttocks with his hand. Never before had I been so honoured and in an instant, I knew that it had all been worth it.

Or so I thought. The very next morning, I was summoned to the Party offices.

“Comrade Zhang, thank you for coming to this meeting.”

I looked around me, from left to right. As well as the Comrade Director, there were a lot of major Party figures sitting at the table. Whatever this was about, it was important.

“We will get straight to the point, Comrade. Your performance in ‘Fragrant Flower in a Stagnant Pool’ was so inspiring that you have been selected to play the lead role in a new production, ‘Mist Gathers Below Shan Mountain’. However, we have received some criticism concerning the historical accuracy of some of the costumes and dialogue in ‘Fragrant Flower in a Stagnant Pool’ and we wish to make this new production entirely accurate and reflective of that barbaric time.”

“Yes, Comrade Zhang,” said the Comrade Director, taking over. “This new play concerns the story of Zhu, a concubine in the court of the cruel Hongxi Emperor. She was a humble village girl who was spotted by the emperor, brought to the palace and forced to live a miserable life as his concubine. Her story is an excellent reflection on the evils of imperialism and how the ruling classes have always turned the heroic worker-peasant classes into slaves. However, in the story, a village boy name Tung, seeing the oppression all around him and being in love with Zhu, raises a peasant army to free his love. They succeed and escape to the mountains but, because he does not have the ideological guidance provided by Mao Tse-Tung thought, the evil emperor outwits him, and they are hunted down by the reactionary troops. In the end, they commit suicide by throwing themselves off the Shan Mountain into a mist-filled ravine, declaring that one day a saviour will come to China who will liberate the toiling masses permanently.”

“It sounds a stirring and ideologically-correct tale, Comrade Director.”

“And you shall play Zhu. However, to fulfil the role, you must undergo some training and, ahem… modifications…”


“Yes, Comrade Zhang,” interrupted the political officer, “modifications. A large part of the tragedy of Zhu’s story focuses on how she is forced to suffer by having her feet bound into the extreme Golden Lotus configuration as this pleases the sadistic emperor. He likes to use her feet for sexual purposes and, as this is a play destined for an adult audience, then we cannot make this inaccurate. The foot-binding is central to the entire tale and conveys a strong moral message as the Party was the organisation that finally put a stop to this awful practice and the people need reminding of this. Therefore, as part of fulfilling this role, you are to undergo footbinding.”

“But it is banned!”

“The Party is prepared to make an exception for reasons of ideological education.”

“And is it necessary?” A wave of fear had passed over me. I recalled my grandmother and mother who’d had bound feet. The constant agony they felt when walking; their slow, mincing gait. I had been freed by the Revolution. To undergo that was simply unimaginable!”

“Entirely necessary. Are you questioning the Party’s wisdom, Comrade Zhang?”

“Not at all, but…”

“Then you shall be taken to the hospital following this meeting and the process shall begin.”

How can I say what I felt then? To have my feet bound like a woman from the reactionary days? This was certainly not something that I welcomed! I had seen old women with their feet mutilated in that way of course, hobbling around like invalids, but I never thought that I would be one of them. Indeed, what I love so much about the Chairman and the Revolution and the Party was that they are all so progressive, dragging China out of the dark ages to a bright future where all the people can be free and successful. Yet here they were, ordering me to be dragged back, to mutilate myself for “beauty”. How could it be? What did it mean? I knew that the orders of the Party should not be questioned for the Party embodies a collective wisdom greater than that of any individual, but even so, I was finding this hard to accept. Again, as I had the night before in the opera, I repeated the mantra ‘I am doing this for the good of the Party! I am doing this for the good of the Chairman! I am doing this for the good of the Revolution!’ but this time it did little good. For, if the truth be told, now I was not so much ashamed as scared. I had heard that the binding process could be exceptionally painful. And pain is something I could never welcome.

The hospital was white and clean, one of the establishments reserved for the use of senior Party officials. I was shown to a private ward and nurses fussed around me. Then a doctor came and explained what was to happen:

“Comrade, to achieve the desired Golden Lotus appearance which was usual for concubines in the period you will be depicting in your play, it is required that all the bones in your foot are fractured or, to be more precise, dislocated. To enable the size of your feet to be reduced, the toes on each foot will be curled under, then pressed with great force downwards and squeezed into the sole of the foot until the toes break.”

Even hearing his words made me shudder. It sounded so painful. Surely I could not endure this! Seeing my grimace, he continued, “Do not fear so much about the pain of the operation. We will give you anaesthesia during the operation and so you will feel nothing. Straight afterwards the feet will be tightly bound with bandages. However, pain will come later when the anaesthesia wears off and, also, whenever you put weight on the feet. Walking will become very difficult for you, Comrade Zhang, particularly during this period of binding.”

“You say ‘period’. Does it not finish with the operation?”

“No, not at all. In the olden days, girls first had their feet bound at a young age and the feet were continually rebound daily to keep them decreasing in size. However, you do not have the luxury of time. The opening of your play is National Day which is only six months away. Modern medical procedures can speed the process up somewhat, but you will still need a daily rebinding which is painful although the Party, of course, has decreed that you be provided with anaesthesia free of charge for this daily routine.”

“I thank them for their generosity.”

“Indeed. And, with time, it will become easier, Comrade Zhang. But the broken toes will be held tightly against the sole of the foot while the foot is then drawn down straight with the leg and the arch of the foot will be forcibly broken. The bandages will be repeatedly wound in a figure-of-eight movement, starting at the inside of the foot at the instep, then carried over the toes, under the foot, and around the heel, the freshly broken toes being pressed tightly into the sole of the foot. At each pass around the foot, the binding cloth will be tightened, pulling the ball of the foot and the heel together, causing the broken foot to fold at the arch, and pressing the toes underneath the sole. The binding will be pulled so tightly that you will not be able to move your toes at all.

“This is the binding process in brief, Comrade. After four months, walking should be not so painful as your feet will have begun to become accustomed to their new shape. That is when you can walk and practise your role. But, be warned, walking will never again be easy for you. You will not be able to run or jump with your bound feet, but instead you will mince along with your comely torso swaying. Moreover, small feet are easily fatigued, and they can’t support the body for too long. So you will need servants to support you with their arms. Indeed, feet that have undergone the Golden Lotus treatment have only the big toes and the heels touching the ground, so any movement is difficult. Small feet are fragile and delicate and easy to be hurt.”

“Comrade Doctor, you have used the word ‘never’ a couple of times in your explanation. Surely though, after the play is over, I can undergo a procedure to return my feet to their natural state?”

“Unfortunately Comrade Zhang, that is not the case. The footbinding once achieved means that your feet can never return into their normal shape. Indeed, releasing the footbinding bondage would only make you more likely to stumble and fall. This is permanent, Comrade. You are sacrificing your feet for the Revolution.”

And so it was that, with tears in my eyes, thinking of my mother and hers before her, I went under the anaesthetic and the doctor began his work.

Life was immeasurably hard for me after the footbinding process. It was also completely different in almost every respect.

The first thing to talk about was the pain. When the anaesthesia wore off it was there and it was constant. A dull throbbing ache. The drugs helped keep it low, but it was still there. And it got worse whenever I tried to move. After only a couple of days, I had to undergo daily exercises which involved me taking steps across a room supported by my maids. Each step was agony as I pressed down on my poor, crushed, broken toes that were now folded underneath the foot. The movement was excruciatingly slow too, and I found that, like the comrade doctor had said, I walked in a way which caused my whole body to sway. I was told that, in the olden days, this was found to be sexually exciting by men. I couldn’t see it personally. I just felt in pain, violated and disabled.

My days now had a strict routine. Every morning, after waking, my bandages were unwound and the feet given a long bath by the maid. Every crevice was washed with soap and then perfume put on them before the whole deformed ensemble was tightly bound again. The whole routine was repeated in the evening, about an hour before bed. In the meantime I sat there, learned my lines and immersed myself into the part of a courtesan in the court of the Hongxi Emperor.

And when I say ‘immersed myself into the part’, I mean it. Totally. Straight after my operation in the hospital, I was taken to my new home. It was an old Confucian temple that had been requisitioned by the Party and turned into a home for the Comrade Director and the actresses training to act as courtesans. At the start, there was only me in the latter category but, after time, more arrived. Also with bound feet. We were forced to live exactly as courtesans had. We dressed in elaborate, silken gowns, had our hair dressed in huge and complicated hairstyles and were kept as pampered playthings in a gilded cage. Sitting down most of the time (this was both necessary due to the pain and difficulty of walking, but also encouraged as traditional wisdom states that it gave women larger bottoms which please men), I began to learn traditional courtesan arts such as playing stringed instruments, singing and, most shockingly, the ancient arts of the bedchamber. I was most disconcerted when my maid gave me a rubber phallus to practice sucking upon and then, stripped me and tried to insert it into my bottom. What had this to do with any play? Again and again I found myself reciting my mantra ‘I am doing this for the good of the Party! I am doing this for the good of the Chairman! I am doing this for the good of the Revolution!’ but, alas, I found it helping less and less.

I had ample opportunity to use those new found skills too. I now spent every night with the Comrade Director and he urged me ceaselessly to use the new skills I had learned. Very soon both my lower holes as well as my mouth became accustomed to receiving his tool, just as those of an ancient concubine would receive the tool of her emperor. What shocked me all the more though, was that there was yet another element to the footbinding process which I had never before imagined.

The Golden Lotus arrangement into which my poor feet had been crushed, resulted in each one having a high “arch” in the middle. However, when in bed the Comrade Director ordered me to put them together, sole to sole, so that the two arches formed a hole. A hole which could then be used for his penis.

I now had four erotic holes instead of the usual three and this final one, the Comrade Director took to using more and more.


This, however, was not totally bad for me, for my tiny feet, being always bound with several layers of bandages, now had skin so delicate and sensitive that when he used the “arches hole”, I also felt a great degree of excitement and arousal.

It was a small mercy.

And so came the day of the play. I was woken early, dressed in all my finery and escorted to the theatre where the performance was to take place. Alongside me were two sister “concubines” who had both previously been pretty actresses and had now moved into the old temple with me and the Comrade Director. The first, Ah Lam, moved in about a month after me whilst the second, Chun, had followed six weeks after that. Both of them had also been subjected to the Golden Lotus and both were also engaged in the same training regime which, after their arrival, had been extended to erotic kissing with us practising on one another.

Both also shared the Comrade Director’s bed with me, often with two or even three of us pleasuring him at the same time. All in the name of historical accuracy of course.

But due to my greater experience, I was taking the lead role of Zhu in ‘Mist Gathers Below Shan Mountain’, a play which, like ‘Fragrant Flower in a Stagnant Pool’, was only shown to a select audience of senior Party officials and which, shamefully, involved not simulated, but real sexual activity on the stage. My mind struggled as the actor lay on top of me, pounding first my love channel and then my “arches hole” with his rod, as to how this could ever be forwarding the Glorious Revolution, and even though I recited the mantra in my mind, it brought me no solace and, indeed, my only feeling when we reached the end and Zhu and Tung flung themselves off the Shan Mountain (onto a mattress hidden beneath the stage) was one of relief.

And yet it did not end there. Indeed, then it only just began. For after the performance, still dressed in my full regalia, I was taken to meet a particular member of the audience, no one other than the Chairman himself, our beloved Mao Tse-Tung! He praised me wholesomely, whilst holding my hand, stroking my cheek and then, to my surprise, escorted me to his car. And so, dressed as a courtesan from years gone by, I was whisked through the dark and empty streets of Beijing, to the Chairman’s residence and there, carried to his bedchamber and made to lie with the very father of the Chinese nation, the greatest man to have ever lived, the architect of our nation’s joy. Yes indeed, stripped naked, the Sun of the East did insert his rod into me, hold me by his side and caress my body and, for a brief hour or so, in a way, it all became worth it.

Part 2



Pillow Companion: Part 3

Part 2

Part 3

Chapter 1

Sitting on her carrier was, undoubtedly, the strangest experience of Almast’s young life. She had never ridden a horse during her human days, but she imagined that it must be similar. Well, sort of.

What would be the same, she guessed, would be the experience of sitting in a leather saddle with a living, breathing creature beneath you.

What would be different, aside from having arms and legs to help you balance and grip, is that horsewomen are not kept in their saddles by two large rubber plugs which are carefully fed into their two intimate holes.

Yes, both her intimate holes .

Having something slid into her love channel was one thing, but she was a little used to it. After all, had not that most feminine of places been graced with the Divine Member of the sultan during their night tonight? Having a rubber dong inserted into it was disconcerting, but not a new experience.

Having a similar dong maneuvered into her bottom hole (with the help of copious amounts of lubricant) was something else entirely. Nothing had ever been put up there before, nor did she think that anything ever should be. As the orifice fought against the unwelcome invader, she recalled Lalag’s words, “It’ll be going in your other holes soon,” and winced. And when it was in and the sphincter muscles closed back around its fluted based, she felt uncomfortably full but very firmly anchored to her carrier.

The carrier itself disquieted her though. Her breasts were squeezed up against its head, yet the head had no human features. She tried to imagine it as a living, breathing normal human being but struggled to relate the contorted anonymous creature beneath her to such an image. It was more like an animal. “Is it human?” she had asked her maid upon first sight of the creature.

“It was once, Exalted One. Now it is your carrier.”

It was once. Once human, now not. Just like her.

She shuddered at the realisation.

Controlling the thing was easy. She merely had to whisper and it obeyed. Walk forwards! Stop! Turn left! Turn right! It was fun even as it gave her a sense of power and control that she had not felt since undergoing the honour of reduction. The maidservant told her that there was a microphone embedded within the large nose jewel that she’d been given as part of her preparations for the first night in the sultan’s bedchamber. “It is activated every time your bottom plug is squeezed. That’s why it works when you are impaled onto the saddle but not when you are removed. You need only whisper; it is trained to respond to whispers and not full speech.”

So she did whisper and revelled in the power she now held. For an hour she got to accustom herself to controlling this thing, whilst it got to accustom itself to her. Then the maidservant informed her that she was ready to leave and that all the pillow girls were enjoying a day with their master in the palace gardens.

To leave the room, she had to don a burqa to preserve her modesty. This was turquoise in colour and expensively embroidered. When it was fitted over her and the carrier, Almast was amazed at the image she saw when she peered through the grille into the mirror. Gone was a strange, half-human, half-animal creature with a limbless torso on its back and in its place was what appeared to be a perfectly normal and fully-limbed noblewoman ready to leave the female quarters and engage in society.

Unsteadily yet excitedly, Almast and her carrier strode slowly yet gracefully out of the room and down several corridors, following the maidservant. They came out into a glorious garden with gushing fountains and trees heavy with fruit. Several birds of paradise walked around the pathways nonchalantly and the scent of thousands of flowers filled the air, Almast revelling in it even through the material of her burqa.

The maid led them to where her sisters were waiting. All were dressed in gorgeous burqas of flowing silk – red, green, blue, purple, yellow, all the colours of the rainbow in fact. The pillows greeted one another by pressing their veiled cheeks against one another. As she leant in to greet Patil, Almast felt a little uncertain, scared that she would slip out of her leather saddle, but the plugs and straps held her firm. “I see you have been introduced to your carrier,” said her sister pillow softly. Almast nodded. “It is a strange relationship that we share; they cannot see us and we know nothing of them and yet we are somehow close. I love mine in a particular way, don’t I boy?” Underneath the burqa, Almast detected a slight wiggle as if the carrier were proud of the praise it had received.

The pillows sat down on cushioned seats in a shaded corner of the garden and then the sultan himself arrived, fanned by servants carrying palm leaves. Almast’s heart leaped when she saw him, remembering the night of passion that they’d shared together. He too sat down and a band began playing raga music. They continued for some time before a singer was brought out. She was young and lithe, with enchanting dark eyes and captivating curves. Seeing those limbs, Almast felt a surge of jealousy rush through her truncated body, but when she opened her mouth, such a heavenly sound came out that she forgot her anger and lost herself in the beautiful music. The sultan too enjoyed it, for he clapped heartily after each song and demanded more, but then, after about ten pieces, he clapped his hands thrice and the young singer stopped. Then he beckoned her over and, to Almast’s shock and horror, ordered her to strip naked before then impaling her on his now-rigid rod. The pillow gasped as, in full view of everyone, the sultan proceeded to take the (rather unwilling) girl, laughing as he did, before withdrawing before completion, ordering her to kneel in front of him, and take his tool in her hands.

“Watch this,” whispered Patil. “This is his favourite bit!” And, even as she spoke the words, warm salty seed jetted out of his member, covering the face of the weeping singer in creamy white goo. “It is considered a great honour,” continued Patil as the girl was led away.

Soon afterwards, their team of pillows was led away also.

Chapter 2

Life as a carrier for Almast, his darling, beloved, Almast, was a surreal experience. He could hear her whispering in his ear in a manner most intimate, talking to him directly in a voice that could melt any man’s heart, yet he could never see her and he was acutely, painfully aware that she didn’t even know his identity. To her he was just a thing, a trolley to cart her truncated form around. Their relationship was like that between horse and rider except that this horse could think and feel like a human. The quiver of her heavenly whispers combined with her warmth and tantalysing curves pressed up against him, caused his member to grow rock hard which was painful because the suit that they’d put him in contained some sort of chastity device which held his cock in a sort of curved metal tube. That was fine when it was flaccid, but when he grew erect and stiffened, the tube stopped it from reaching its desired form and that hurt both physically and mentally.

And in a dark, silent world with only the whispers of his beloved and the warmth of her body pressed against him to occupy his mind, that pain was almost unceasing. When she instructed him to walk some distance with a number of stops and turns before she was then removed from his saddle and an unknown and unseen servant took hold of his leash, he was almost glad.

She was taken to her room where she was removed from her carrier and set down on the bed. Then her maid started fussing over her and beautifying her. She was bathed all over and then fragrant oils rubbed into every pore of her skin. Her brows and lashes were trimmed and extended and make-up exquisitely applied to her face. Then attentions were shifted to her nether regions. Wax was liberally applied to the whole region and then strips of paper applied. When these were removed, the pain was excruciating, but the resulting appearance, entirely denuded of hair, was remarkable.

Then her hair was braided and decorated with jewellery before golden ornaments were added to her nose ring, her ears, her navel and the piercings through her nipples. Finally ready, she was then placed on a velvet cushion and carried through to the sultan’s bedroom.

Already waiting there were her two fellow team members. They were both sitting on the bed, their backs resting against the headboard. They greeted her with smiles and when she was placed between them, both Shushan and Patil squirmed and pressed their truncated forms up against their new sister.

And then they waited.

Around half an hour later, the sultan arrived.

Shavarsh could not understand what was happening. He was led by his leash along a route that he did not recognise and then a strange voice spoke into his ears. It was neither Almast nor the voice, but a new, unknown one. It was male.

“Well done Carrier of Pillow Almast. You have done well and your sultan will now reward you. You will tonight witness the most exquisite of delights.”

The new voice finished and he felt straps being fastened around him. Then, someone fiddled around at his crotch and to his shock – and delight – he felt the chastity tube being removed. His member sprang to life. Then, his eyes cleared. He was in a tiny compartment, just big enough to house his standing form. It was entirely black save for two pinholes located in front of his eyes. He peered through them and saw a bedroom of such size and sumptuousness that he wondered if it were real.

He waited.

After what seemed like an incredibly long time, the door to the bedroom opened and a maid walked in. She was carrying a cushion and, seated on the cushion, was a girl. She was an incredibly beautiful girl with eyes like sapphires and long blonde hair. What was most remarkable about her, however, was that she was totally devoid of any limbs. Where her arms and legs should have been were only smooth curves of porcelain-like skin. The maid put the cushion down, lifted the girl and seated her on the bed so that she was facing the hidden carrier. Then the maid left.

The vision before him was strange yet curiously erotic. The girl was undeniably beautiful, that was true, but it was more than that. The total lack of limbs, a mere torso waiting to be used, sexually excited Shavarsh. Her absolute helplessness and dependence aroused him in a manner that he did not understand. His member stiffened further and he felt guilty, as if he were being unfaithful to his beloved.

He gazed at this vision of female loveliness with unimaginable longing. For so long he had been denied any sight at all, condemned to a hell of blurred shapes, and now, with full sight restored, he had been given a great sight indeed to feast his eyes upon! How glorious and kind was the sultan! He stopped himself even as he thought it: glorious and kind, the man who had transformed him from an agile young gallant into a thing, condemned to carry a truncated torso on his back. He should hate, not praise such a person! Yet he was thankful, more thankful than he had ever been before in his life. To a starving man, even a morsel of stale bread is heavenly.

The door opened again and another maid walked in, also carrying a velvet cushion. And on this velvet cushion was another truncated girl. She had long ebony tresses and chocolate eyes, yet straightaway it knew that it was not her, not the one that he yearned for. This girl was placed on the bed near the other. Both visions of reduced loveliness stared back at him and his dick went into overdrive. He was desperate to touch it, to relieve the pressure; the slightest touch would cause him to erupt, but his hands were chained behind him and, squirm as he might, the belts fastening him to the wall prevented him from rubbing that throbbing tool against one of the sides of the compartment. He was in heaven and hell at the same time.

And then it got better and worse. The door opened for a third time and another truncated girl on a pillow was brought in. And this time, in an instant, he knew that it was her. His eyes drunk in that perfect face, those kind and captivating eyes, those rosebud lips just waiting for a kiss. She was placed in the middle and looked at him unknowingly whilst the other girls leaned in towards her.

All four waited.

And waited.

The door opened for a final time and a man walked in. Naked and smiling, he made his way over to the bed where the three girls waited defensively. He spoke to them and picked the blonde one up. Then he kissed the second and finally lifted up Almast, talking to her and then kissing her on the lips. Jealousy and hatred coursed through Shavarsh’s veins. How dare he! She was his girl! But she wasn’t, of course; he was no longer even human, reduced to a mere thing by the man who now played with the pinnacle of female perfection.

As helpless as the girls on the bed, he watched with anger and fascination.

The Sultan lay on the centre of the bed. Then he took the black-haired girl and positioned her under his head. Shavarsh gasped in anger. He was using her, such an exquisitely beautiful creature who could melt the heart of a thousand men, merely as a pillow. He rested his head on his ample breasts, snuggling into them and then ignored her. It was wrong! So wrong! She was much more than that. And yet… yet, stripped of her limbs like that, didn’t the girl – didn’t all three of the girls – resemble pillows in a perverted way? Shavarsh tried to shake the notion from his head, but it stubbornly stayed there.

Then the sultan took the blonde girl. He lifted her up and then placed her between his hairy legs, her face just above his throbbing cock. In amazement, Shavarsh watched as the girl wrapped her mouth around it and started sucking eagerly. He was using her mouth like a love cavern! It was so wrong, so perverted and yet so absolutely erotic at the same time.

And finally, the sultan picked up Almast, his own darling, beloved, perfect, innocent, Almast. He lifted her onto his stomach and then cradled her in his arms, moving his face to hers and embracing in the most erotic and passionate fashion imaginable. Without arms she returned the embrace in every way she could, whilst the blonde sucked away on his cock and the black-haired girl gave him comfort with her breasts. The kiss was long and intense, last minutes, and only finishing when the sultan suddenly sat up, removed the blonde from his cock  with a push, put his own hand around it, placed Almast on the bed, positioned himself over her and then sprayed his salty, milky seed all over her face.

He panted, exhausted by the exertions and rang a bell. Moments later, a maid arrived carrying a glass of water. The sultan greedily drank it all by himself and then got the blonde-haired girl and pushed her against Almast. The blonde licked Almast’s face clean and then the sultan discarded her, before taking the now-spotless Almast and cradling in her arms as he drifted off to sleep, his head resting on the breasts of her companion.

And as he did, Shavarsh’s vision faded into opaque again.

But the stiffness in his member did not fade away.

And there was no one to lick away the tears that soaked his face under the skin of his carrier suit.


Chapter 3

And so the days became weeks and the weeks became months and the months became years and for Almast being a human pillow became normal.

Well almost.

She still thought back to the days when she was fully-limbed and could walk and run around, but the memories grew hazier and the reality of being totally dependent on others for everything became more normalised. In her dreams she sometimes walked through the streets or even copulated with a man on a bed of satin sheets, but most of the time her nights were dreamless or the copulations involved her being taken as a torso.

The same could not be said of Shavarsh. Following that night when he was given the honour of watching the sultan use one of his personal pillow teams, intense dreams filled his sleep. Every night, the moment he closed his eyes, he would see those limbless girls, those pillows of perfection, eager and ready, waiting for satisfaction. And in his dreams it was he, not the sultan, who was doing the satisfying. He would hold them in his arms, lower them lovingly on his cock, or cradle them as he drifted of to sleep. His fingers would trace their chests and his lips would meet theirs with passion. Unlike the sultan, he never relegated one to the status of a headrest and unlike the sultan he always shared his glasses of water with them.

And unlike the sultan, he never erupted all over the face of one of them, but instead would let his warm seed gush into the womb of Almast, filling her and pleasing her.

And then he would wake-up to the blurry darkness and the reality of his life as a carrier would cause him to weep whilst his member strained for that release that could never come.

All was not so bad though, for though they could never join as Shavarsh wished, he did experience Almast pressed against him every day and hear her voice lovingly whispering into his ear. She was a kind mistress. She never chastised him if he made a mistake and always thanked him at the end of the day. And during those long periods when, clad in a hot and heavy burqa, she had to watch some dull entertainment provided for the sultan (and then, invariably, him rape that entertainment for an encore) she would start a conversation with her carrier. She would whisper to him her secrets, her hopes and desires. Through those monologues, he learned that Shushan originally came from Europe and had been spotted by the sultan when he had been on a visit to Copenhagen on business. So smitten was he with her, that he’d ordered his secret police to follow her and then kidnap her before subjecting her to the honour of reduction and taking her in his bed. Her name had been Susan – or Suzie – then, but she had been renamed in Hayastani fashion and now she struggled to think of her old self. Susan was Danish and a sports-loving athlete. Shushan was a Hayastani pillow who was honoured to serve the sultan. Things were easier that way.

Patil was also not her an original name. She came from the high mountains of the Caucasus and so was renamed Patil – snowflake – because the snows lay heavy there for six months of the year. She had been engaged to a boy in her village whom she loved very much before she had caught the eye of the palace scout. She often wondered what happened to that boy and had come up with a theory – crazy in Almast’s mind – that her carrier was in fact, that boy. ‘He seems to understand me and love me; it must be him’ she had told Almast one night.

“I wish I too had had a boy that I loved and that loved me,” Almast had whispered to Shavarsh, “but, alas, my upbringing was too sheltered and protected. I saw very few boys, aside from my brothers and father of course. There was one though, a servant name Shavarsh. He used to look at me in the evenings in the garden. I thought that I didn’t know he was there, but I did. I could have told my father of course, but I did not. Dad would have beaten him soundly and banished him from the house, but I didn’t want that. You see, I rather liked him too and I used to dream about a life with him as a free peasant girl, away from all the restraints of society. In fact, at night when I dream, sometimes the man that I imagine myself lying with is him. In my dreams I am fully-limbed and I entwine my arms and legs with his and we become one. It is a beautiful dream, so much nicer than the time I spend in bed with the sultan who only cares for his own pleasure – do you know what, he has only used my holes twice in the last six months and I am so desperate for release! – but incredibly naughty. But it will never be! Ahh me! Ahh my!”

No, it never could, for that Almast was gone. Her arms and legs had been removed and then, soon afterwards, her name too, with the sultan rechristening her Lusnka – moonlight – because it was in the moonlight that he had first seen her and taken her. Almast was gone, forgotten and forsaken by everyone save her carrier who cherished her in his heart and prayed for her every day.

And although she did not know the identity of the thing that transported her around daily, she too grew fond of him, for she sensed that he wished to please her and was gentle in his movements. Indeed, on more than one occasion, while lying alone in her bed at night, she mulled over Patil’s theory of her carrier being her former beloved, before casting it from her mind. After all, she had never had a real lover; that boy in the gardens was probably married and a father by now and had forgotten that she ever existed.

And so things continued for twelve years.

Long before it happened, Almast knew that it was coming. She may have been devoid of arms and legs, but her eyes and ears still functioned perfectly, not to mention her other senses. She had seen how Patil had started to age and then, one day, how she left the team, to be replaced by a new girl who was barely sixteen. Then, a year later, the same happened with Shushan. Her two closest friends gone, she never felt happy working with the two younger girls, even though they were both sweet and lovely. Time was ticking by and soon the clock would strike for her too.

When Patil had left, they’d had a little party for her. The pillows had gathered in a circle and, as a rare treat, were fed wine and fine morsels by their maids while music played. It had been marvellous fun and had made Almast long to be fully-limbed once again so she could have danced to the lively tunes. Then Patil was fastened onto her carrier, a fine white burqa draped over her, and led away to her new life.

The burqa had been white because the sultan, pleased with the years of service that she had rendered him, had deigned, in his infinite kindness, to find her a husband with whom she could live out the rest of her days and bear children. Almast had wondered just what sort of man would want a reduced torso as a spouse, but then remembered how much the sultan himself, the finest of all men, loved limbless ladies, and figured that the honour of marrying a girl who had coupled with the sultan would be great indeed. No hints though, were ever given as to who he was. Patil was not even told a name. She was just informed that he was waiting and that was that.

And so too had it been with Shushan.

And so too was it today with her.

“The sultan wishes to reward the pillow Lusnka for the countless hours of pleasure that she has rendered him,” read out the maid in a very formal voice to the assembled pillows. Almast smiled inwardly. Over the last year or more, those hours of pleasure had grown noticeably fewer and fewer. These days she was rarely called to the honour of embracing him or engulfing his tool in her mouth, let alone having her intimate channels used. The younger girls always got those honours nowadays whilst she was relegated to the honour of cushioning his head as he received pleasure and then slept. And looking in the mirror, she understood why. Her sheen and sparkle had faded and wrinkles were appearing around her eyes. He was no longer attracted to her.

“In his infinite kindness and generosity, our Gracious Lord and Master has located a husband for you. You shall be wed next Wednesday and then will start life afresh as a married woman. On Tuesday he has graciously agreed to fund a leaving party for you to celebrate your coming nuptials with your sister pillows.”

And so it was that today her head was dizzy with wine while a white burqa was lowered over her head before she tearfully left the pillows who had been her sisters and friends for all of her adult life.

Wearing her wedding burqa she was carried on a cushion by her maid out of the room. She could not tell where she was going because the burqa incorporated a piece of cloth behind the grille which blinded her completely. In a white haze she merely travelled, leaning against the chest of the maid who carried her. She wondered why her carrier was not being used but then wondered if he had not been transferred to another pillow now. After all, since she no longer served the sultan, did she deserve such an honour? The thought of never seeing her carrier again saddened her and tears fell from her eyes. Despite the fact that it could never speak to her and she could never see it, all those years of being pressed against it, their two bodies acting as one, she the eyes and ears, it the legs, had caused her to have great affection for it. Many’s the time when she’d wondered what it had been like when it was human, what the man had looked like, and what he was called. She would never know, of course.

Almast felt herself being placed down on the seat of a car. A strap when across her chest to secure her and then the engine started. She hadn’t been in a car – or indeed, out of the palace – for years, and she found it all extremely exciting. She wished that she could see out of the window at the passing world.

They drove for an indeterminate length of time and then the car stopped and she was unfastened and carried out. Again, the maid walked her for a while and then she felt herself being set down again. Then the burqa was removed.

She was in a bedchamber. Far humbler than the one that she had slept in whilst living in the palace, and a world away from the regal chamber where the sultan had taken her and the other pillows after nightfall. But it was still a pleasant, well-appointed room, with a double bed and beautiful tapestries on the walls. It also had a dressing table. Her maid carried her to this and braided her hair, reapplied her make-up and then doused her in pleasing scents. Then she was carried onto the bed and lain there. The maid left and she waited for her husband.

After a few minutes, the door opened but, to Almast’s astonishment, no husband entered and instead, in walked her carrier. Overjoyed to see it again, she cried happily, “You’re here! I so feared we would never be together again!” Then she stopped and a frown crossed her face. “But you should leave,” she said gravely. “I am waiting for my husband here and if you are found in my bedchamber there might be trouble. Go now!”

But the carrier did not go.

Almast realised that it probably could not hear her as they were not connected. “You can’t hear me, but go! I don’t want you to be in trouble, darling carrier!”

Again, it did not go. Instead it shook its head and walked towards her.

“You can hear me?” she asked, surprised.

It nodded.

“Then why don’t you go? I’m waiting for my husband! You’ll get in trouble!”

Then, to her shock and amazement, the carrier walked over to the dressing table and picked up a notepad and pen that were lying there. This was the first time that Almast had ever seen it allowed free use of its hands. Normally, they were chained together (usually behind, occasionally in front) and encased in padded mitts. Today they were free. In shaky writing as if not used to holding a pen, the carrier wrote:


Almast read, stunned. This thing, more animal than human, was her spouse! It was horrible and yet, at the same time, it had been human once before. Indeed, it still was human, save for a crooked spine and being encased in a suit. Or was it? Instinctively she looked down. Where previously there had always been a sealed cover, a very human male tool sprang up menacingly.

“You truly are my husband!” she said with a gasp.

It – he – wrote again.


Shavarsh… Shavarsh… where had she heard that name before? Then the penny dropped. Shavarsh was the name of that servant boy who had adored her and spied on her. “Shavarsh who was a servant in my father’s house? Shavarsh who peeped on me in the garden?”

He nodded and wrote again.


She looked at his modified form and then remembered what had been done to her. She remembered his youthful adoration and remembered her own. She remembered the years when he had served her faithfully, anonymously, and remembered her own closeness to him. She gazed at his rock-hard tool and remembered her own need for fulfillment.

“Of course I can! There is no one I could love more.”

And with those words he walked over and joined her on the bed.



Ten years later

The sky is still dark and the world is sleeping. Onto the terrace comes a shadowy shape, a grotesque, deformed creature like something one may read about in a children’s tale. You, the onlooker are shocked, but that surprise only increases when the creature’s arms reach out and then lift the head and torso from its own body! Then you realise, with morbid fascination: this is not one being but two, a fully-limbed human with a curiously-deformed spine and a limbless torso.

It is Shavarsh and his beloved wife Almast.

He carefully places her down on the chair and then sits beside her. Together, noiselessly, they wait as they do every morning while their children sleep soundly in their beds.

Then, slowly, a slivver of sun appears and the fingers of dawn creep across the horizon. The new day has arrived. Shavarsh hugs his wife with silent joy; a wife who can never hug him back and will never see his face nor hear his voice. It does not matter though. They are together forever.

His youthful prayers have been answered.


Pillow Companion: Part 2

Part 1

Part 2

Chapter 1

The full moon sits high in the sky, illuminating the garden and the colonnade surrounding it. But the moon’s light is not the sun’s and in the shadows, nothing can be seen. He stands behind one of the stone pillars and gazes at the scene before him, unseen and unknown.

By the fountain in the centre of the garden she sits, her long, ebony tresses cascading to the ground while her chocolate-rich eyes stare dreamily into space. All day long she is veiled and secluded as a modest and pious girl of standing should be, but at night, after sunset, her father lets her sit in the garden uncovered and it is these precious minutes that he longs for all day long, when he can steal a glimpse of this angel from heaven. His eyes trace the line of her breasts outline by her tight gown and revel in the shape of her thighs revealed by the folds in the cloth. He drinks in those rosebud lips and wishes that his own were pressed against them. She is perfect, the very pinnacle of womanhood.

She is but sixteen, a year younger than him.

She sighs, a sigh of great longing and unrequited yearning. Or so he imagines, wishes. In his mind that sigh is because she longs to be with a man, aches for it. But not just any man, only the man she loves, adores with all her heart. And in his fantasies, that man is him, the lowly servant who runs her bath for her and brings her meals. For she is a pure soul, untainted and corrupted by the ways of the world. She cares not for status, money and hierarchies; instead she pursues only the purest of emotions and truth. Love is what matters and love is what exists between them, regardless of the views of this cruel world.

In his fantasies.

She sighs again and then speaks. But what words are these which pass her lips. “Oh me, oh my!” Yes, she yearns. There is a hole in her soul. But why? She speaks again, but what does she say? “Shavarsh,” she mutters to no one and everyone. Truly? Did she really say his name?! He cannot be sure, but it sounded like it. It could, of course, have been Shavab, the name of that arrogant young nobleman who called the other week, or possibly even Shadarev, that self-important army officer so full of himself and cocksure. But no, she is too good for both of them, a heart so pure as hers would never yearn after such superficial dandies. She did say his name, he is sure.


Someone did say his name, but he did not hear it. Nor did she. She did not speak and she would never be aware that someone did. For that person is also unseen, hiding behind a grille in one of the upstairs rooms of the men’s quarters. That man is her father and he has seen the impudent serving boy who spies on his offspring. “Shavarsh,” he whispers to the man standing beside him. “That is the boy’s name.”

“His name is of no importance to me. He shall not be bearing it for much longer.”

“But is he suitable?”

“He is ideal. I could not have picked a better candidate myself.”

“What happens next?”

“We shall take him tonight. I have already summoned my men. He needs to be worked on immediately as it will take him much longer to be ready than her.”

The moon passes behind a cloud and the boy feels sad, for his love is now hidden from him. Like in life, the world has separated them and his fantasies are just that. Deep down he knows that they can never be together, never be close.

Little does he know how wrong he is.

He struggles to sleep. He often does. After seeing her, it is hard to think of anything else. Around him in the packed dormitory, the other servants snore loudly. The master gave them free wine tonight in celebration of a family memorial. This surprised and annoyed Shavarsh. He was surprised because the master is notoriously stingy and never gives away free wine or food, even on religious holidays, and he is annoyed because it was dished out while he was sneaking a look at his beloved in the garden. By the time he returned, it was all gone; they were drunk and he was sober. Just his luck!

But, of course, he was the blessed one, not they. He had spent time in the garden with an angel. This Adam had gazed upon his Eve. As his mind turns towards her enticing curves, his hand strays down as it so often does these days. His has to be silent, as silent as the night, and still too. He massages his already rock-hard member with visions of her beauty to aid him and brings himself to the brink when…

The door is flung open and light streams in. Shocked, he sits up. Four masked men enter and make their way across to his bed. He screams and one of the men lunges forward to grab him, putting his hand over Shavarsh’s mouth. “No use screaming, son,” says his unknown assailant; “that wine was drugged; even the Second Coming couldn’t wake this lot!” Two of the other men take hold of his arms and his legs and render his struggles useless. Then the fourth man approaches, brandishing a large needle.  He looks at the rock-hard member standing up proudly and smiles. “That’ll not be getting any relief for quite some time,” he laughs cruelly, grabbing the throbbing member with his free hand. Shavarsh shakes his head frantically and screams into the hand of his captor. The needle descends and is plunged into his arm.

Within seconds his world turns black.


Chapter 2

Beep. Beep. Beep.

What is that infernal sound? It pervades my dreams and follows me wherever I go. It sounds like a machine, a machine in a hospital. Have I had an accident? Where am I? What has happened?

Such were the thoughts of Shavarsh as he lay in that half-world between waking and sleeping.

Something had happened? He was somewhere? In fact, he was in the same medical complex that Almast was to occupy a month or more later when she received the honour of reduction. Not that he was to learn that.

For unlike the sultan’s new pillow companion, no one ever thought it necessary to explain things to the boy once known as Shavarsh.

When he did awaken, he panicked. He was lying on his side on a bed and his body felt somehow wrong. He tried to turn over onto his back how he usually slept, but found it impossible, like his body didn’t want to be in that position anymore. He opened his eyes but they didn’t work. Or at least, not as they used to. Light flooded in but that was all. An opaque light with only then vaguest of outlines discernible. Like looking through a window of frosted glass.

Except that this was now his normal sight.

He screamed.

  He brought his hands round to find out what but after only a couple of centimetres, something prevented them from moving further. His wrists seemed to be linked by a chain behind his back. that was one of the reasons why he was lying on his side.

But not the main one.

As he readjusted himself back to this world, he ascertained that his body was covered all over, encased in some sort of tight suit , but the sensations coming from his body made this inconsequential for the moment, for his spine seemed no longer straight, but bent in a weird way somehow.

Now he was scared.

And the beep-beep-beep continued ad infinitum.

What was worse was that no one seemed to be concerned or to care. There were people about, he could sense them. Slight vibrations as they passed. Several times they leaned over him and his near-useless sight darkened. They attached something to his mouth and he felt something being pumped into him. After that the pangs of hunger went. They would also remove the plug that he could feel in his butt and insert something there too. Water would rush in causing his stomach to distend and then cramp. Then it would rush out again and the plug was replaced. It felt disturbing and wrong, violating.

No one spoke to him or acknowledged him.

Well, maybe no one spoke to him. The problem was that he couldn’t hear anything. He worked this out when the first vibrations were felt. He knew instinctively that these meant that a person had entered the room, but there was no corresponding sound to go with it, no rustling in the air, only absolute silence and the infernal beeping. Then he realised that they’d messed with his hearing.

Whoever “they” were.

It was several days before he found out. Days spent lying there, accompanied only by the beeps, blind, deaf, altered somehow, and scared.

And then the beeps ended. They ended and a voice came into his ears. “We are going to stand you up now. You will learn to walk again with your new body. You must obey all the instructions that I give you. Failure to do so will result in punishment.” It was a male voice and it had no trace of kindness in it.

Arms took hold of him and he was stood up. But when he was standing, it was not like before. He was shorter and his head and chest seemed to be thrust forward compared with his bottom and legs. After so long – how long, he wished he knew…? – lying on the bed, his legs were weak and he would have fallen. But even when he did have the strength to stand unaided, his balance was out. If he balanced and walked like he used to, he just fell forward. With his spine bent so severely, his whole body was out of kilter and he needed to relearn how to use it.

It took time. Day after day, week upon week. Each was tortuous and mind-numbingly boring. He was instructed by the voice in his ears. “Walk forwards!”; “Stop!”; “Turn around!”; “Walk forwards!”; “Stop!” and so on. And for each time he failed, there was a price to pay.

The first time it came as a terrible shock. Literally. He had been out of the bed for two days and had been instructed to walk forwards ten steps. But on the fourth he stumbled, his balance went, and he fell.  Someone caught him but it didn’t matter. A bolt of pain shot through his body. It emanated from the plug in his bottom. Then the voice said, “That was the lowest setting. If you continue to fail, the voltage will increase.” It was a great incentive to learn.

And learn he did. By the end of the week, he could stand and walk unaided; by the end of the second week, he could even jog and his walk was sufficiently elegant for the voice. Then something was dumped onto his back, like a heavy sack. And it was at this point that an explanation was given.

“You will now be trained for your future role in life. Your purpose now is to act as a carrier for the sultan’s latest pillow companion. You are to be her legs and her arms; she shall be your eyes and ears. Fail and you will be punished. Succeed and rewards shall come your way.”

This brief explanation opened as many questions as it did answer them. What was a pillow companion? What is a carrier? Why him? He longed to ask these things but of course could not. However, it was as if the voice sensed his concerns, for it then continued, “You have worked hard over these last few weeks and so I shall now demonstrate how you will be rewarded. Turn left and stand still!”

Shavarsh turned and then, to his amazement, the clouds covering his eyes cleared and he enjoyed proper sight for the first time in weeks. Joy filled his heart and he felt like dancing. However, then he noticed the image in the mirror before him.

It was vaguely humanoid, but only vaguely. Whatever it was was covered in some sort of suit, dark material decorated with exquisite gold and silver embroidery. It had no face, merely five pinholes in the dark fabric: two at the nostrils, one for each eye and a slightly larger one at the mouth.

What was most incredible though, was that it was bent forward at an unnatural angle and then the chest forced up and back. What had happened to its spine? Could surgery even do that? On its back was a saddle and sitting on the saddle was a queer doll. It had the face of a pretty girl, but unlike all the pretty girls he knew, this one had neither arms nor legs, more like a living pillow than a normal girl. She was smiling. It was expressionless.

It was him.

He stared in disbelief and horror. What had they done to him? Why? Then he noticed something else. Woven into the embroidery on his forehead was, in mirror-image, a word: Ալմասդ – Almast. Almast! That was the name of his beloved, the girl who filled his dreams, whom he used to spy upon and fantasise about. The very pinnacle of womanhood. He tried to touch the word with his hands but they were, as always, chained behind his back. The voice, however, understood.

“Almast is the name of the pillow companion that you will serve. She will ride and you will carry. You belong to her and she belongs to the sultan. Now, we must return to your training for you need to be ready soon. From now on you shall train with this doll on your back so that you know what it is like to carry her.”

And with those words, his sight became opaque once more.


Chapter 3

After that his training became both harder and easier. Walking around with a saddle and weight on his back was definitely more challenging and tiring than when there was nothing there. The strain was enormous and this – coupled with the fact that the weight might flop this way and then the other, affecting his balance – meant that he received more punishment shocks and was sweating from exertion almost continuously.

Conversely though, the little that he had been told, set his mind at rest somehow. He now understood what had been done to him and why. Well, a little. He knew why he had a contorted spine and why he was being expected to walk around gracefully. What had not been explained was why him and not someone else, a criminal perhaps, who deserved to suffer so. But then again he mused, his mind having nothing else to occupy it, the little that he had been told, could indicate why it was he who had been chosen. After all, he now belonged to ‘Almast’. Could it be, could it truly be that this Almast was the very same as his beloved, that pinnacle of feminine beauty, purity and perfection that he had spied on so often in the garden? Had he himself not prayed to be allowed to be with her and serve her?

As he trained vigorously in his opaque, isolated and highly-restricted world, his mind engaged in a vicious debate with itself.

-Just because she is called Almast, it doesn’t mean that she is your Almast, you idiot?

-But why not? Why shouldn’t it be her? The voice said that she was a pillow companion to the sultan himself and why would he not pick the most beautiful girl in all creation to share his bed?

-Does your idiocy know no bounds, Shavarsh? That Almast is a noblewoman, not some concubine of the sultan? She is too pure and innocent to be subjected to such a degrading role! And besides, did not the voice tell you that the pillow companion that you would be carrying has no arms or legs? And does not your Almast have all her limbs?

-But they could have removed them! The thought is horrible, too horrible to contemplate it is true, but they could!

-And why would they do that? Why would the sultan destroy such perfect limbs and turn that pinnacle of womanhood into nothing more than a torso, a mere pillow, a toy? That would make him evil beyond imagining and yet everyone in Hayastan knows that our ruler is just and pious!

-Just and pious?! And would a just and pious man agree to me being mutilated as I have been? Is this ridiculous body and suit not proof enough of his evil?

-You are nothing, a mere serving boy! What is done to you does not count! But her? Your precious Almast, she is noble and so cannot be touched! This Almast is another, a whore from the streets, who has deserved such mutilation and is fit only to serve men sexually.

-No, she is mine! I feel it, I sense it. Her father saw me spying on her and has wreaked his revenge.

And so on and on, until his mind was exhausted and he could think no more.

And then, one day – after how many he could not say as they all seemed to roll into one another – the training stopped and things changed. When he awoke in the morning, he felt clean and fresh. Unlike before, the voice did not command him to undergo exercises with the saddle and weight on his back. Instead, it spoke to him slowly and gravely.

“Today your training has ended and your role begins. You have worked hard and learned well and your sultan is proud of you. In a few minutes, Almast will be introduced to you. She will sit on your back and she will command you. You will rarely hear from me again.

Like with me, her voice shall reach your ears. When she sits on you, a connection shall be made which will activate a microphone that she wears in her nose jewel. She has been instructed to whisper and you shall hear her instructions. When she has been seated on you, you will be granted an hour to get accustomed to one another. Then you shall begin your role. If you fail in any way, you know the consequences. The shocks that you have received thus far have all been on the settings 1 or 2. The dial goes up to 10. This is enough to kill you. Conversely, if you perform well, you shall be rewarded. Sight will be allowed for the most intimate of occasions. Let this spur you on. Goodbye Carrier of Almast.”

And then there was silence.

He felt a chain being attached to his collar and he was led somewhere. Then he was stopped and the hateful saddle was fitted on his back. Hateful until now that is; this time though his heart pounded with anticipation. His role would soon commence! His pillow girl would soon be seated upon his back! And if that pillow girl was his Almast? Oh, sweetest of saddles!

His leash was yanked and he was led away again.

He walked a short distance and then stopped. Shadows moved before his opaque eyes and then he felt a weight being fastened onto his saddle. It felt like the training doll but he knew that this burden lived and breathed as he did! As it settled in something connected and he could hear a disturbance in his ears. Then, a voice. A female whisper. The faintest, most melodic, most welcome of all whispers. “Hello carrier, I am Almast, your mistress. I hope we can get on well together.”

It was his Almast! His darling! His beloved!

“Walk five paces!”

He stepped forwards with glee.

Part 3