Life in the not-too-distant future
Previously in Changed Times
“If there is any repeat of this, I shall not hesitate to cane you severely,” he said adding with great emphasis, “on the bare bottom.”
The three twenty-year-old men standing in front of the desk stood hands clasped behind their back and stared passively at the ground; their faces colouring slightly.
“You know that I am permitted to do this; I am sure you follow the news like everybody else.”
Mr Hodgson bristled a little. Still the three apprentices at Global Petroleum would not meet his eye. “Look at me when I speak to you,” he growled.
Slowly and with great trepidation they raised their heads. Mr Hodgson surveyed them slowly. They were dressed in the company’s apprentice uniform; pale grey trousers, gleaming white shirts and striped ties. All three had abandoned their black company blazers in their own office. Their hair was cut neatly short. Ears and necks clearly visible. All three were free of tattoos. They wouldn’t have been employed otherwise.
“We take our responsibilities very seriously here at GP. That includes our responsibilities to you. If you cannot follow the rules and behave appropriately I shall ensure that you are taught an exemplary lesson,” Mr Hodgson said.
Following the decision in the referendum for the UK to leave the EU, there had been an upsurge of nationalism. The New Democrat Party had swept to power in the general election that followed. They were misnamed being neither New, since they harked back to some supposed golden age when people knew their places the young were deferential to their elders and the Church was respected. They were not Democratic as a wave of authoritarianism had swept the country. The young were the first to feel the brunt.
Corporal punishment was reintroduced to schools after an absence of thirty-five years. It was widely welcomed by teachers and parents, if not the pupils themselves. It then made perfect sense to extend corporal punishment to colleges and universities. Within a year birching was introduced as judicial punishment in the law courts for a wide range of offences. Now, apprentices in the workplace were also to be subjected to beatings. Nobody under the age of thirty would be spared.
Mr Hodgson was a leading light in the local New Democrat Party and held the position of internal affairs minister in the local council cabinet. He was a strong supporter of the new corporal punishment policy, believing that young people had lost their way; witness the way they scarred their bodies with tattoos.
Mr Hodgson believed it was the duty of older and wiser people to guide the young. He was a man who believed in duty. Duty to the Party, duty to the country and duty to the young.
He took his new role as Global Petroleum’s local Discipline Officer very seriously. He had attended, in his own time, a weekend course in “Applying Discipline in the Modern Age.” He learnt all about the new punishment laws; about the duties of the employers and the responsibilities of the young apprentices.
He learnt the theory; but also the practice. The workshop participants spent an afternoon acquiring caning techniques. Who would have thought it was difficult? Mr Hodgson had supposed the young man would submissively offer him his buttocks and Mr Hodgson would whack them with a cane.
Actually, Mr Hodgson discovered the actual punishment was indeed simple. You slashed a slender rattan cane at high speed across the bared buttocks of the delinquent. There were many sizes and thicknesses of cane to choose from, but the Government was trying to standardise things. Wherever possible the cane should be no longer than forty-inches and no thicker than a pencil.
They showed a short film. It looked pretty authentic, but none of the participants dared asked. It showed two men in their twenties. They were in an office environment; very similar to the one at GP. When instructed they lowered their trousers and pants and bent across a standard office desk. The film then demonstrated a number of caning techniques.
Mr Hodgson wriggled in his hard plastic chair as the voice-over said, “The slash of rattan against flesh causes an intense but temporary agony, and it leaves a swollen mark of a purplish colour across the buttocks. A cut stings intensely for a minute or two, then reduces to a constant throb for several hours. The buttocks are sore for a day or two, and the mark of the cane might be visible for as long as a week, though there is minimal pain after the initial application.”
After the film, they were given realistic mannequins to practice on. Some of Mr Hodgson’s fellow workshop participants thought it wasn’t enough simply to thrash plastic dummies. They took themselves off to a private room and caned one another. They felt it their duty to learn how painful a caning might be, since they were willingly inflicting it upon their younger charges. Mr Hodgson did not take part. He felt that was a learning experience too far.
The workshop told them that caning was meant as a deterrent. The idea was to stop bad behaviour. That meant repeated instances of mild misdemeanour was to be stamped on. “Nip it in the bud,” the workshop facilitator had said.
Mr Hodgson took that to heart. A deterrent. He wasn’t a cruel man, but he wanted obedience from his staff. The three young men standing sheepishly before him had been warned. Next time it would be a thrashing.
Ian Lucas was waiting outside the office. He had been warned previously. It had not made much effect.
“Send in Lucas,” Mr Hodgson growled, as he dismissed three mightily-relieved young men.
Moments later Lucas was standing in their place. He was dressed similar to them in every way except he also wore the black company blazer, with the GP logo on the breast pocket.
Lucas was aged twenty-one and very slim, almost thin. He stood about five-feet-eight. He had medium length dark brown hair, just long enough to start looking untidy, with a few curls around the ends. His face was cute, for a boy anyway, with long eyelashes. He had piercing brown eyes and full lips.
Mr Hodgson thought Lucas looked so young, he could easy pass for a sixth-former at one of the local schools. Except the schools now demanded pupils from the youngest to the most senior boys wore short trousers. Mr Hodgson thought it had something to do with the pupils being taught to remember that they were children and must obey their elders and betters. Mr Hodgson pictured Lucas in his GP uniform with grey short trousers. He would look very smart, he reckoned. Maybe before long apprentices would also be forced back into short trousers. Mr Hodgson, for one, would not object to that. Perhaps he would bring the subject up at the local council.
Lucas stood, his hands clasped behind his back. He knew why he had been called to the office. There could be only one outcome.
Mr Hodgson pulled a manila folder from his desk drawer, opened it and studied it carefully. There was no need for him to do so, he already knew its contents by heart. Lucas was not a bad lad, but he had been breaking small rules. Lucas was like a footballer about to be shown a yellow card for an accumulation of minor offences.
Except there was no yellow card; instead there would be a decidedly red bottom.
Mr Hodgson read from the document in a monotone voice. “You arrived late two mornings this month; you have been heard questioning your superiors’ authority to set you tasks; you were caught smoking in the toilet.”
Mr Hodgson finished reading and looked straight at Lucas. The boy avoided his boss’s eye and stared down at his feet.
“And, look at you,” Mr Hodgson had found a further complaint, “You need to get your hair cut.”
“You have been warned before about the consequences of your behaviour, have you not?”
Lucas shrugged. Everything Mr Hodgson said was true. He had been a damned fool.
“Look at me young man. Have you been warned?”
Lucas’s dark brown eyes, usually so dreamy, betrayed his fear. Reluctantly, he raised his head and staring now at the desk in front of Mr Hodgson, he whispered, “Yes, Sir.”
“Yes, Sir,” Mr Hodgson spat back. “Then really you leave me with no alternative.” The workshop had taught Mr Hodgson that such behaviour needed to be nipped in the bud.
He rose from his desk and walked across his office. Alongside one wall there were shelves and cupboards. One cupboard was relatively new. It was tall and thin. Mr Hodgson slid open the door. Lucas continued studying his boss’s desk. It was a huge walnut rectangle, conspicuously devoid of any paperwork. Its top was bare, except for a telephone. Lucas did not need much imagination to work out why this might be so.
Behind him Lucas heard a strange hollow rattling sound. Mr Hodgson was rummaging in the cupboard. Lucas could not see but he could hear that there were several thin swishy rattan canes. Mr Hodgson was taking his time. Mr Hodgson believed in obeying rules. All the canes in his collection conformed to Government guidelines. That said, he had discovered that length and thickness were not to only attributes to a good punishment cane. There was also density. Two canes of similar length and thickness could deliver quite different punishments, depending on their density.
He pulled out a rattan that its manufactures marketed to schools as a “senior” cane. It was meant to be used across the backsides of senior schoolboys. It was the weapon of choice in sixth-form colleges and could make any eighteen-year-old’s backside very sore indeed.
When administered with some vigour across Lucas’s bared backside it would leave him in no doubt of the consequences of poor attitudes to work.
Mr Hodgson flexed the rod between his hands. It made a perfect arc. He swished it through empty air, delighting at the swoosh!! it made as it travelled. Lucas’s heart skipped a beat. Sweat began to form at his neck.
“Turn around and face me, Lucas,” Mr Hodgson swiped the cane through the air. Lucas’s bright brown eyes welled. Already, he could feel tears prickling.
Mr Hodgson had been Discipline Officer for more than four months. Lucas would not be the first young employee he had thrashed. At first, he was surprised at how submissively a youngster would present himself. He had expected there to be objection and protest. He soon realized that, of course, they had no choice. They either took their beatings or were dismissed from the company. Jobs were scarce and new laws had decreed that young unemployed people would not receive welfare benefits. Instead, they would be assigned to a camp where they would work under harsh conditions for wages that would just cover their accommodation and food.
A young man at Global Petroleum knew when he was onto a good thing.
“Take off your blazer and put it on that chair,” Mr Hodgson swished his cane and pointed to a low-backed easy chair. Despite trembling fingers, Lucas undid his jacket and slipped it off his shoulders.
“Now stand in front of my desk.”
Lucas obeyed without a murmur.
“Now lower your trousers and underpants and bend across the desk.” Another swish of the cane. “Right over.”
Lucas found his damned fingers were still reluctant to work. How difficult should it be to unbuckle a belt? Eventually it was loose. He popped the fastener at the top of his trousers and the front fell open. His fingers made a better job at pulling the zipper and gravity helped his pale-grey trousers slip down his thighs. They snagged at his knees, so he parted them a little and his trousers continued their slow journey to his ankles.
Mr Hodgson admired Lucas’s mauve-and-yellow tanga briefs. They were a snug fit and hardly kept the young man’s cock and balls in place. Mr Hodgson was becoming a bit of an expert on young men’s underwear fashion. He was a Boxer shorts man himself, but it seemed nobody under the age of twenty-five wore such things. Tightly fitting briefs seemed to be the order of the day.
It was irrelevant to the matter in hand. “Take down those briefs. Quickly. Please don’t dawdle.”
Lucas pinched the sides of his tangas and with the merest flick of the wrist he sent them south to meet his trousers. Instinctively, he cupped his hands to shield his groin from his boss’s gaze and shuffled uncomfortably from one foot to the other. Mr Hodgson smiled inwardly. All the boys did that. Without exception.
“Bend across my desk please,” once again he swished the cane. This was Lucas’s first time, so Mr Hodgson gave specific instructions. “Lay your stomach on the desk, reach your hands in front of you and grab the far edge of the desk. It helps to lay one cheek on the surface of the desk. Keep your legs apart. Try not to bend your knees.”
They were clear instructions and Lucas was soon in the required position. The desk was huge and the young man struggled to get much of a grip on its far edge.
Mr Hodgson watched as Lucas wriggled into position. His bottom was perfectly placed to receive lashings from the cane. As bottoms went it was balder than most Mr Hodgson had seen and there was only a very light dusting of hair on his legs. His backside jutted noticeably from the thighs offering a sizeable area for the cane to do its work.
Mr Hodgson gripped the cane tightly in his right hand. It was almost ready to start. But not quite. He had a homily to deliver first. “You’re an adult, Lucas. Yet you’re over my desk to receive a caning with your trousers and briefs at your feet. Why? It’s because you still haven’t learned discipline. You haven’t accepted that the rules apply to you. Well, they do. This is what happens when you break them. I hope for your sake that you learn the lesson this time. I will warn you right now that I take canings very seriously. A caning does no good unless it’s a stiff one, and I make mine the stiffest.”
With that, Mr Hodgson lifted the cane and rather as a golfer might when teeing off he swung from the hips and brought it down with terrific force across the very centre of Lucas’s buttocks. The agonizing slice cut in wickedly, making Lucas squeal and rock and writhe violently. His legs marched up and down. He tried to grip the edge of the desk but it was too far away. Instead, he hammered his fists into the desktop.
Mr Hodgson looked on with deep satisfaction as a thick, dark red ridge immediately formed across Lucas’s backside.
The second slashed across the buttocks landing about a half inch below the first. Lucas was in living hell. Searing pain overwhelmed his senses. It was agony, pure agony. Thousands of nerve ends across his sensitive bum, throbbed. Another weal grew, swelled and pulsed across his burning bottom.
Lucas’s buttocks tossed and heaved. He was out of control. His hips writhed. His legs marched up and down like a sentry on guard duty.
“Steady boy. Keep still.” Mr Hodgson waited patiently for the apprentice to settle. Then, Swipe!! The cane felt to Lucas like it had sliced him in two. It was eating, burning into him. He writhed and moaned, yelped and wriggled his backside. He clasped his hands together as if in prayer. His shoulders rose from the desk top. It was torture. Eventually, after what felt like a long minute or two, the sharpest intensity of pain subsided.
Then the fourth cut lashed down carving into the underside of his cheeks, down where they meet the thighs. The pain in his behind rose and flooded through him, intense and scorching. He thought he would die of the pain. His entire backside was on fire, all four stripes sent agonising messages of alarm to his brain. Tears spilled from his eyes and splashed across the polished wood.
The fifth stroke extended the pain. It was agonising. Lucas could not stop weeping. His lungs drained of air, he coughed and wheezed, gasping, desperately trying to take in oxygen.
Mr Hodgson had learnt his caning techniques well. For the sixth and final stroke, he moved his position slightly, aimed the cane diagonally across both of Lucas’s cheeks and swung it at full force so it landed across each of the previous five cuts. The apprentice’s buttocks were now tattooed with the image of a five-bar gate.
He howled and he howled. The slash had reignited the agony of all five cuts and added more of its own. Tiny droplets of blood trickled from points where the final cut intersected the others. Lucas marched his feet up and down. His bum felt like someone had rubbed his mother’s smoothing iron across it.
Mr Hodgson stood and watched the boy who was face down across his desk, gasping for his life. He was like a beached dolphin. Mr Hodgson was hugely satisfied with his work.
“I hope you have learned your lesson. Remember I shall not hesitate to repeat the medicine if you continue to infringe the rules,” Mr Hodgson intoned pompously. “You should get up now.”
Lucas hauled himself to his feet. The pain was easing slightly. His eyes blazed almost as much as his bottom. He wiped his tear-stained face. Then, not daring to look at his tormentor, the apprentice slowly, very slowly, bent down to retrieve his trousers and pants. Then with trembling hands he put on his blazer.
Mr Hodgson replaced the cane in its resting place.
“You are dismissed, Lucas.”
The apprentice shuffled to the door, opened it and left the office. He felt the eyes of his fellow workers burn into him as he made his way to his desk.
Mr Hodgson sat at his desk and opened a folder. It was time to resume his work.
Other stories you might like.
More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Charles Hamilton the Second