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This chapter is the pivot of the story, exposing male guilt for the sexual mistreatment of women and culminating in submission to due punishment.

Consciousness returned slowly. I lay on a soft bed in an unfamiliar room. The décor was pink and there were quantities of lace. It was warm, with subdued hidden lighting. I was naked. My arms, shoulders, back, anus and testicles ached. So did my head. My nipples felt sore. I struggled to sit up but the headache forced me flat again and shut my eyes.

The door opened and a woman entered. She wore a sexy little black dress and killer heels. I tried to apologise for being in her room but she cut me short.

“Speak when spoken to.” (Foreign accent.)

I forced my lips apart and croaked: “Where am - ?”

“Turn over.”

It was difficult to move because of the pain and, I thought, a drug overload. The woman repeated her command and I managed to comply. I heard a crack and a whip cut into my buttocks, once, twice, three times. I bit the pillow but couldn’t suppress a cry.

“I said you speak when spoken to. You not ask question. You answer question.”

I began to understand Sura Drilea’s intended warning. A surge of anger suppressed the pain but bewilderment supplanted it. Why me?
Where was I? How long had I been here? Where was Mandy?
I needed answers, but not while I was too weak to defend myself against the bitch with the whip.

After half a minute of silence she ordered me to turn over again and sit up. She had to support me. My eyes scanned my body: chest, legs and genitals were hairless except for the inverted pubic triangle, and I’d lost weight. My mind shied away from the implications.

When the woman spoke again her voice was gentler.

“Swallow these, Specimen Ten. Pain killer. Yes. Here is water to help.”

I swallowed the tablets and the water and lay down again. Specimen Ten. Specimen Ten. The woman’s left hand toyed with the whip. I’d learned from the films that men in these circumstances – ‘specimens’ - were forbidden to have erections, so why had she dressed to arouse me?

“You are confused, angry, fearful. Have many questions. Yes?”

I nodded. It hurt.

“I am Ms Kurtag. Woman you call ‘Mandy’ come in one hour and explain much. You address her as Ms Curtis.” A smile toyed with her lips. White even teeth. “We make refinement. Seeing films prepare specimen in advance. Save time, save work. Also, new method to control erection.”

She brandished a small remote control with one light and one button. This was mine, she said, programmed specifically for me. Each specimen in the new batch had one.

“If erection begin, warning sound, then you press button. Like this.”

She slowly lifted the hem of her dress, showing more of her legs. My cock began to stir. As it hardened, a buzzer sounded and the light on the remote flashed red. Ms Kurtag pressed the button. An electric shock blasted my balls and a bolt of pain shot up my back, into my kidneys and down my legs, making me gasp and cry out. My cock wilted immediately.

“While you are here your body is depilated; electrolysis, laser treatment. It is weakened and slimmed. Microelectrodes are implanted in testicles.” She photographed my limp dick with her phone, grinned, and placed the remote beside me. “You use when erection starts. If you not use, we give bigger shock. So, better you learn impotence until you go to post.”

Reminding me that Mandy – Ms Curtis – would visit in an hour, she left, closing the steel door behind her. An electronic lock clicked.

* * * * * * * *
Several minutes passed before I struggled off the bed and started to crawl around the room. There was an en-suite decorated with flowers. On the wash-basin in front of the mirror were a bar of perfumed soap and a new pink toothbrush. Feeling my stomach rebel against the drugs, the electric shock and the situation, I crept forward and vomited into the lavatory. Then I lay on the floor, contemplating a shower.

When ‘Ms Curtis’ appeared, I decided, I wouldn’t take this ‘Ask no questions’ nonsense lying down. Okay, I was lying down, but I’d be on my feet shortly. Operating the shower took an effort. The warm water stung my lashed buttocks and throbbing testicles but ameliorated the other discomforts. The towels were fluffy and, needless to say, pink.

Despite the vomiting, the pain killers were starting to work. I returned to the bedroom and looked in vain for something to wear. Apart from the double bed with its soft mattress and pink sheets, the only furnishings were an armchair with flower-embroidered cushions, a black metal stand about two feet high equipped with wheel, handle and piston, and a small table bearing a pink hairbrush and comb together with a jug of water and a tumbler, both of unbreakable plastic. Of course, I thought, glass could be broken and used as a weapon, or for suicide. There was a door in the wall opposite the shower. It opened on a cupboard containing cleaning materials. On the same wall was a full length safety-glass mirror. It reflected a slim, hairless body: mine.

I sank into the armchair, my mind rejecting what my senses told me. This was a nightmare. Specimens One, Five and Eight had assaulted women; I hadn’t. I’d done nothing to deserve this treatment. A mistake had been made, so I could force Mandy and the others to take me home.

Or could I? Specimen Ten. Specimen Ten.

* * * * * * * *
Mandy opened the door without knocking and locked it behind her. She was dressed as usual: jeans, sweater, boots. My hands moved to cover my genitals and she told me to get off the chair, kneel on the floor with my legs apart and keep my hands at my sides. She didn’t carry a whip but she picked up the remote and her eyes gleamed, so I obeyed. She sneered at my drooping dick.

“I told everyone you’re malleable and will learn quickly, but I see Ms Kurtag was obliged to whip you. I presume she ordered you not to speak until spoken to and never to ask questions?”

I nodded. She sat in the armchair and continued:

“Nevertheless, for the next hour you may question me, within limits. First, however: who am I?”

“Man... Ms Curtis.”

“Good. And who or what are you?”

The phrase stuck in my glottis until Mandy brandished the remote. I whispered, “The Hungarian woman called me ‘Specimen Ten’.”

“Ms Kurtag was correct. What else did she tell you?”

“That I was brought here, wherever ‘here’ is, drugged, depilated, and kept on a starvation diet – IV, I suppose – to weaken me and make me lose weight. Electrodes have been implanted in my balls so a shock can be administered whenever an erection starts.”

Mandy nodded. She didn’t doubt I’d explored my room. Cell. I was now free to ask questions.

“Why me?” I said. “The men I saw on film had committed brutal sexual assaults. Their punishments were excessive but I understood them. But I’ve never perpetrated such a crime!”

She looked disappointed.

“I hoped you wouldn’t require pain to make you confess. But you’ve time to reconsider; your interrogation won’t start for forty-eight hours. I suggest you think about your attitudes to women. The way you use prostitutes. The way you talk about them.”

Disbelief flooded me.

“My flat’s untenanted, at risk. I need to go home.”

She corrected me: my flat had been let to a reliable woman who’d live there and treat my property with respect pending my return. Publishers and editing customers would be stalled. If the police search caused damage, my tenant would undertake repairs.

“Police search?” I frowned.

“The police asked you not to leave town, but you did, so they obtained a search warrant. The gun used to kill Sura Drilea was found in your bathroom. So it wouldn’t be sensible for you to go home even if we’d let you.”

Shock loosened my muscles and I fell. The flowery carpet was thick and soft. Mandy ordered me back on to my knees. Anger blossomed. I raised my voice.

“How dare you? Give me my clothes! I’m leaving! I’ve a lot to tell the police!”

She chuckled. My clothes had gone, she told me. My property was secure but I couldn’t leave. Even if I did, even if I could manage the long journey home with neither clothes nor money nor ID nor travel documents, how could I convince the police of anything? I’d no evidence to support my accusations.

For a time I was silent, my breathing rapid and shallow. My anger didn’t diminish but I couldn’t turn it to advantage. Weakened though I was, I could have overpowered Mandy; but how then could I escape the cell, let alone the building? I must bide my time, I thought. An opportunity will come.

“We knew we had to deal with you when you made the sex-line call to Daniella. You’ll recall the incident. Daniella works as ‘Mistress Black Diamond’.”

I remembered the telephone dominatrix who cut off my call when I described a Castration Festival scene.

“Does that mean all online service providers are - ?”

Mandy chuckled again.

“No, you made an unlucky choice,” she said. “Daniella knows about the Festivals because she inherited Mistress Dedesa’s dungeon when Mistress Dedesa came to design our interrogation suite, being one of my oldest friends. But if it hadn’t been for Sura you wouldn’t have been brought here for another fortnight. Under the circumstances we’d no choice but to provide an additional two weeks’ board and lodgings for you.”

She smiled and said Ms Kurtag had needed reassurance about my ethnicity; like many Jobbik supporters in Hungary she was anti-Semitic.

“We explained you aren’t Jewish, but were circumcised for medical reasons during infancy; one aspect of preparation you won’t need. And you’ll be easier to prepare than most specimens because you’re in good shape, don’t smoke, don’t drink much, and already know how to cook and clean.”

“Should I be grateful?”

My teeth gnashed. She said the time would come when I would thank the Festival organisers. She was sure I’d be an attractive woman when I’d been upgraded. My head spun: disbelief, rage, fear, revulsion... Much like the cocktail of emotions that rape victims experience.

I asked what had happened to Sura. According to Mandy, Ms Drilea had been sent to survey potential specimens for the forthcoming Festival but had decided to warn me I was on the list.

“She dreamed of becoming a naturalised Brit. Maybe she imagined that if you and she made the Festival scheme public knowledge, she’d be a step closer. But her reasons are irrelevant. She broke the rule of absolute discretion and paid the penalty.”

A cold shudder scurried up my spine. The cocktail of emotions swirled again and the throbbing of my testicles intensified. Sura Drilea had been shot dead for threatening to reveal the truth about the Castration Festivals. All the evidence pointed to me as the killer, so Mandy and friends had ‘rescued’ me from the police. Now I was in captivity pending, I supposed, my public appearance on the fourth morning of this year’s Festival.

It isn’t going to happen, I told myself. But the question still forced itself from my mouth:

“Is the Hungarian – Ms Kurtag – going to be... I mean, is she – “

“Your castratrix? No, Specimen Ten, you’ve been assigned to Ms Hiromi Takamitsu. We expect her here in a fortnight.” Mandy stood, stretched and walked to the metal stand in the corner of the room. “However, Ms Kurtag has been trained in interrogation techniques by Mistress Dedesa and is now the trainer in charge of preparation. A word of advice: when she or any other officer permits you to speak, try to make yourself sound like a woman. This might help. Come here.”
She attached a small plastic dildo to the piston, smothered it in lubricant, and made me crawl round on all fours until its tip touched my anal sphincter. Then she turned the handle, slowly. The wheel turned; the dildo penetrated and withdrew again. The feeling of violation as the foreign object entered me induced a new surge of anger, and the pain made me gasp.

“This is the first time you’ve been penetrated while you’re conscious,” she said. “It’s entering more easily than it did a week ago. We’ll progress to a bigger dildo soon.”

She turned the handle more rapidly. I wanted to pull away, but as the sphincters relaxed and the pain dwindled my body began to respond, thrusting back at the dildo. Its betrayal disgusted me. Mandy laughed.

“Very good, Specimen Ten. We put small doses of female hormones into the lubricant. They’re absorbed efficiently via the anus. They’re starting to work on you. First signs of breast development. Had you noticed?”

Was that why my nipples were sore? I ground my teeth but my body went on committing treason. When Mandy stopped the wheel ten minutes later and the dildo was withdrawn, I almost felt disappointed. She ordered me to clean it and clean myself, and to express gratitude. I opened my mouth to curse her but her finger hovered over the button of the remote so I bit my lip.

“Thank you, Ms Curtis,” I murmured.

Within twenty-four hours I’d learned that every specimen in the batch was similarly cowed. When we were allowed to look out of a window at the world around us we beheld a flat, snow-covered landscape devoid of human occupants. Snow falling with... what was it...? The sound of moths’ wings beating, caressing the ground in lamb’s-wool slippers... All hope of escape evaporated.

* * * * * * * *
Life during the succeeding weeks was monotonous: exercise, cleaning, cooking, deportment training, limited recreation, lights out at ten-thirty. What I missed most was coffee. Fortunately, my system had been depleted of caffeine while I was unconscious so I didn’t suffer withdrawal symptoms, but water – essential for all living things, including imprisoned specimens – isn’t an inspiring beverage.

The diet was limited, too: fruit and vegetables, with tofu the main protein source. The quantities were small enough to keep us hungry. Thanks to the diet and our daily aerobic exercises and light circuit training our bodies became slim and taut, and the hormones administered via our dildos were starting to induce feminine curves. Three of the specimens had developed perceptible breasts. Mine were hardly noticeable. I was fleetingly jealous, then enraged at my jealousy. I grew accustomed to larger dildos and submitted without complaint to episodes of electrolysis when there was renewed hair growth.

During idle hours, recollections of past happiness played in my head. At night they were interwoven with dreams reiterating our activities here: walks on the sea-shore mixed with aerobic exercises, love-making with Laura entwined with anal ravaging by Mandy’s dildos, dinners in the Thai restaurant with my current diet.

Twelve people that were still technically ‘men’ exercised together under the degrading, Lycra-clad supervision of Ms Kurtag and two other women. One of them, who looked Russian, watched with folded arms and impassive face but noticed everything and everyone. Any hint of protest or rebellion brought painful retribution, so every specimen learned to submit to abuse without complaint. Ms Kurtag and her second companion laughed their way through our aerobics classes, mocking the limp scraps of gristle that jiggled between our legs as our bodies swung to and fro. The maybe-Russian’s face didn’t change; her laughter was internal.

During lunch one day after class, Specimen Four sat beside me. Specimen Four was the only other native English speaker in our batch. It was - had been - a psychologist. I asked whether it understood why the women in charge here were so abusive and why we’d become correspondingly submissive.

“Remember the Stanford Prison Experiment?” it said.

I was too young to remember the Stanford Prison Experiment but I’d read about it. In August 1971, under the direction of Philip Zimbardo, twenty-four male college students were divided randomly into twelve ‘guards’ and twelve ‘prisoners’ and put into a mock jail. Both groups internalised their roles rapidly. The submissiveness of the ‘prisoners’ and the cruel and dehumanising actions of the ‘guards’ indicated that behaviour is situational, not dispositional, a matter of environment and assigned role, not personality.

“Weren’t the study design and interpretation questionable?” I said. “Too few participants for reliable statistics; the recruiting adverts would have attracted some personalities and repelled others, causing selection bias; behaviour within each group varied a lot; Zimbardo assumed the role of ‘prison supervisor’, so his objectivity as experimenter was suspect; and he was committed to the belief that only bad circumstances create bad people, which surely prejudiced his interpretation.”

Specimen Four nodded.

“All true. And since all the participants were men we’ll never know if a sex difference could have been demonstrated. But the results were interesting. Since you know about Zimbardo’s study, you’ve probably heard about Stanley Milgram’s experiments at Yale during the 1960s. Milgram’s conclusions were in line with Zimbardo’s: give people an opportunity to be cruel and sadistic, place them under the authority of someone who expects and encourages cruelty and sadism, and guess what happens. Some individuals won’t become unfeeling torturers no matter how you pressurise them, but they’re a minority. The opportunity to exercise power over others is enough to turn most humans into sadists and torturers, provided those in authority promise impunity.”

What a depressing picture, I thought. Were we and our captors corroborating what Milgram and Zimbardo had demonstrated, or at least claimed? The speed with which we’d adapted to our roles seemed to confirm Zimbardo’s conclusion about the rapid internalisation of imposed status.

“I was thinking more of Stockholm Syndrome,” I said.

Stockholm Syndrome was named after a bank robbery in a suburb of Stockholm during August 1973. The robbers held several employees hostage in a bank vault for five days while the police negotiators were busy. Over those five days, the hostages grew attached to the robbers and later defended them, begging the authorities not to punish them.

“Yes,” said Specimen Four. “The same behaviour arises in most hostage or abduction scenarios: acceptance of the situation, positive feelings towards the abductor, negative thoughts about rescue or escape.”

“Can you psychologists explain it?”

Specimen Four shrugged.

“There’s an evolutionary explanation,” it said, “but like everything in evolutionary psychology it’s conjecture. So take this with a pinch of salt. During our hunter-gatherer ancestry, kidnapping and enslavement happened all the time, especially to women, so we evolved to adapt to it. This captor-bonding trait enabled captives to survive, so it was positively selected, and their descendants down to the present day inherited it in their genomes. Hence the psychological changes in people undergoing military training, in prisoner of war camps, during sado-masochistic games, being enslaved, etcetera; and it could explain what’s happened to the twelve of us here. It might also explain why victims of domestic violence stay with their abusers and defend them. But whether or not you believe in a heritable captor-bonding trait, Stockholm Syndrome’s real. We’re living proof of it.”

* * * * * * * *

Apart from boredom, lack of coffee and a dull diet, my main difficulties with the régime were speaking in a ‘girly’ voice, maintaining a graceful feminine posture, and mastering the arts of baking and sewing. All the specimens had similar problems, but unlike most I didn’t become breathless during exercise, or yearn for television programmes and football scores, or suffer tobacco or alcohol deprivation, or struggle with cooking and cleaning. Indeed, I had to teach some of them how to cook. We had to refer to each other by number; any specimen mentioning its former name received a public whipping and spent the rest of the day being used as the communal lavatory. We grew accustomed to unrelieved nudity and ceased to notice each other’s bodies, and never mentioned our lengthening hair or our slight but inexorable progression towards more feminine shapes.

Erection control was the other challenge. Every morning for three weeks I had to grab the remote and zap myself as soon as I awoke, and more than once the same need tore me from sleep during the night. Only once did I fail to use the device and I’d never forget the result. As Ms Kurtag had promised, my uncontrolled erection alerted the watchers and the shock they administered was twice as violent as the one from my remote. Being tasered probably feels like that if the charge hits your genitals. The electric blast emptied my bladder and bowels and left me with a cleaning job I couldn’t undertake until I recovered. After those three weeks, erections became less frequent. Either the shock-induced aversion therapy or the female hormones, or both, kept my penis mostly limp. To judge from the screams from neighbouring cells, some specimens didn’t ‘progress’ as quickly as I did. And even without shock treatment, erections must have pained the newly-circumcised.

To relieve our boredom we had films and books, all of them soppy romances. The best bits were the deions of sumptuous meals and delicious wines, which made our mouths water. Such sex as was portrayed focussed on emotions; physical activities were secondary, but they sufficed to activate several remotes, so there were shrieks of pain from the audience. We could also request films showing scenes from the previous year’s Castration Festival but none of us did. We’d all been entertained in cinemas like Mandy’s before we’d been abducted, so unlike the specimens at earlier Festivals we needed no further foretaste of what was to come.

* * * * * * * *
By far the worst parts of those weeks were the interrogation sessions. I doubt whether any specimen confessed willingly. All the cowardly demons at the backs of our minds grasped at the same straw: if we don’t confess we can’t be found guilty so we can’t be punished so we’ll be released, still with our cocks and balls. We knew this wouldn’t happen but we kept telling ourselves it could, should, would.

As I’d made clear to ‘Ms Curtis’ I began by asserting I’d never raped anyone. I honestly believed I was guiltless. Exhuming the memories and confronting the truth entailed emotional pain beyond imagining, and it wasn’t achieved without physical pain to match. Ms Kurtag inflicted it. The Russian who’d attended our aerobics sessions watched.

“Torture can make invented confession,” Ms Kurtag conceded as she stretched me on the rack, “but it also dig up forgotten thing. Quicker than hypnosis. Now tell, Specimen Ten: Aileen.”

She tightened the rack a little further and I screamed as my shoulder, hip and knee joints threatened to dislocate and the ropes gnawed into my wrists and ankles. She forced a wedge between my knees, separating my thighs, and I almost fainted. Then she picked up a heavy leather strap, took off her shoes and stood on my abdomen, facing towards my feet.

“Aileen,” she said. “Remember. Twelve year past. Massage parlour. Woman call herself Aileen.”

A massage parlour? A prostitute, then. Did I play a rape game with her? Consensual in that case, not a crime. I told Ms Kurtag I’d no idea what she was talking about. She lifted the leather strap over her head and smashed it into my balls. A jagged flash of pain seared through me and everything went black. An indefinite time later I awoke with my face and hair soaked in cold piss. I was in agony, covered in perspiration, quivering like an aspen.

“Aileen,” she repeated. “Twelve year past. Massage parlour. What you do to her.”

I shook my head. My voice whined.

“Please, no, I can’t remember. I can’t, I can’t! Please, tell me. If it was something I did, I’ll confess. I just can’t...”

She lifted the strap again.

“Think, Specimen Ten. I not tell. You remember. You make her do something she not do. You force.”

At last, a thin shred of memory floated up from my unconscious: a petite brunette with B cup hooters and a neat little bum. It was the sort of mental image that makes a man toss himself off, but my tossing-off days were over. Yes, now I remembered. Aileen had said “I’m sorry I don’t do that” and I’d lost my temper.

“Ah. You recall.” Ms Kurtag jumped down to the floor and smiled. “You see? Stretch body on rack, beat testicles with leather strap, mind start to work.”

As resentment shouldered its way through the ranks of pain surrounding me, Mandy entered the interrogation suite and acknowledged the Russian, who nodded, unsmiling. Mandy asked the torturer how the specimen was progressing.

“It begin to remember what it do to Ann Rennie, called Aileen,” said Ms Kurtag.

Mandy walked over to the rack and stared at me. She sniffed and wrinkled her nose.

“Yech. Has it confessed?”

“Not yet. It will.”

Mandy asked Ms Kurtag to release me from the rack. Ms Kurtag unfastened the ropes, but although my limbs were now free again I couldn’t move. I thought I’d experienced the worst agony, but as the circulation to my arms and legs was restored a new battalion of pains marched over me, piercing and burning. I howled.

“Tell us about Aileen,” said Mandy.

The memory took shape behind my eyes but I couldn’t speak. Mandy poured water for me and the two women held me up so I could drink. I sobbed like a baby. Was it bodily or mental anguish that made me weep?

‘Aileen’, I now recalled, had been a prostitute in a two-woman massage parlour where the girls did their own reception work. I’d used her three or four times. One evening I visited and found her alone; the other woman on shift was doing an outcall. When we were both naked I told her I wanted anal sex. I hadn’t been up a woman’s arse for months. When Aileen said she ‘didn’t do that’ I repeated the demand, whereupon she tried to put her clothes back on and kick me out. Furious, I punched her under the ribs to wind her and then flung her face down on the bed and shoved my cock between her buttocks. The hole was deliciously tight; she’d told the truth - she’d never been done that way. She screamed.

“I wore a condom, I used lubricant, I paid her twice the going rate for cunt,” I told Ms Curtis and Ms Kurtag. My voice whined and croaked between sobs. “Okay, I had to punch her to make her submit but there was no other violence. And how could it be rape? She was a whore!”

Mandy spelled out the aftermath. Aileen – Ann Rennie – had needed surgery to repair injured tissues. She had to give up work because she grew tense and fearful while awaiting clients, and this made her unable to provide a service. She started to drink heavily. Loss of income and increased spending on alcohol landed her in debt. She defaulted on her mortgage and lost her house.

Having told me this history, my tormentors tied my wrists to a pulley in the ceiling, hauled me into the air, and beat me with wooden paddles until I confessed in full to the anal rape of the woman who’d called herself ‘Aileen’.

I thought that would be the end of my interrogation, but it wasn’t. Far from it.

* * * * * * * *
Despite a heavy dose of pain killers I slept badly and I was hard-pressed to exercise the following morning. Every sensory nerve from head to toe jangled with memories of racking and beating, every movement sent jolts of pain through me. The other specimens knew what had happened to me because they’d suffered similarly, but fleeting glances during aerobics were their only permissible gestures of sympathy.
Yet I began to doubt my guilt and ipso facto the sincerity of my admission. Mandy had spelled out the consequences of my assault on Aileen, but the more I considered her account the less it persuaded me. Mandy had told me half-truths in the past, and even if she’d been honest this time it didn’t prove cause and effect. My anal assault might have been irrelevant to the deterioration of Aileen’s life, if there’d been any deterioration - if the story wasn’t fabricated. And was my ‘recollection’ of the assault a false memory induced by the interrogation methods? Had I really raped that prostitute, or had I ‘remembered’ and confessed to something I’d never done? These musings cast a blanket of resentment and self-justification over the shame and guilt darkening my mind.

Even if the charge were true, I decided, my crime was less brutal than those libelled against other specimens in our batch. Specimen One was supposed to have preyed on female university students in the town where it had lived, raping at least three. It now awaited its appointment with Renate Grüber’s penis harpoon and phosphor-bronze wires. My friend Specimen Four had raped a mother and daughter in a villa near Torino; the mother had been thirty-seven, the daughter fourteen. Specimen Four had minimised its guilt even while confessing, declaring itself a victim of identity theft and financial ruin by the woman and her former lover, which had justified the act of vengeance. Nevertheless it gloated when it recalled deflowering the girl while her mother watched, tied to a chair and powerless to protect her child.

But who knew the truth about Specimen One or Specimen Four, or any of us? Who could judge the validity of their confessions or the gloss they put on them? Did torture exhume their buried memories or create false ones? Did any of us deserve to feel guilt for what we were said to have done? What about the specimens I’d watched on film? Had they really raped their supposed victims or were the Part One sequences fictional? Had they deserved public castration and penectomy? Had they deserved to be feminised? (‘Upgraded’? Pah!)

* * * * * * * *
Such was my frame of mind when I was taken back to the interrogation suite and made to kneel on the stone floor, hands tied behind me, thighs roped to hooks in the walls so they were held apart. Ms Kurtag tied a length of string to my penis and fastened it around my neck, leaving my scrotum dangling. She and Ms Curtis were joined by Melanie Siddall, who’d castrated the previous year’s Specimen Five, and the Champion, Renate Grüber, sporting the necklace and earrings that marked her status. My body shrank, anticipating pain, but the four women didn’t assault me. Instead, they sat in a row of chairs ten feet in front of me. They were dressed in black business suits, trousers not skirts, with strong black shoes. When they ran their eyes over me I was mortified and afraid, but no racking or beating ensued. The women just sneered.

“Typical male inconsistency.” Ms Siddall put on her spectacles and studied a clipboard, then looked at Ms Curtis. “Specimen Ten expresses anger at rapists. You recorded its comment about Specimen Eight’s oral rape of Janet McIvor last year: If I’d been in the flat... I’d have battered the shit out of the bastard who was raping her. Yet it became sexually aroused as it watched the rape on film. More to the purpose, it’s confessed to raping Ann Rennie, who worked under the name ‘Aileen’.”

The other women agreed: male inconsistency. Ms Grüber said all men like to rape, but become angry and even murderous when they hear of other men raping or catch them doing it.

“Or join them,” said Ms Kurtag. “Make gang rape.”

Ms Curtis nodded.

“True, Zsófia. If Specimen Ten were allowed to speak, Renate, it would say your comment about men supports the sociobiological explanation of rape. It believes the sociobiological explanation.”

“It believes this because it is male,” said Ms Grüber. “The sociobiological explanation is male fascism.” She stared at my shrunken genitals and curled her lips. “It is cock and balls that make the fascist attitude to women.”

Ms Siddall said in that case, Specimen Ten would be cured of its fascist attitude in a fortnight or so, and all four women laughed. Then the questioning began. It was about Laura. My reluctance to hear or say anything about Laura was writ large on my face.

“You lived with her for two years,” said Ms Curtis. “Then, in a fit of rage, you raped her and threw her out of your flat and out of your life.”

The accusation enraged me, horrified me. It was vile. I began to protest, but Ms Siddall reminded me I wasn’t yet permitted to speak. A silent message was exchanged and Ms Kurtag walked over to me, kicked me in the balls, and returned to her seat. The blow doubled me over and a cry of pain billowed from my throat. Tears ran down my cheeks. Ms Grüber ordered me to kneel upright again. Agony spread in all directions from my nuts, reminding my body of its recent torture and making the command almost impossible to obey; but I knew worse would follow if I didn’t.

“Let’s be more precise, Specimen Ten,” said Ms Curtis. “You did to Laura what you’d done to Ann Rennie. You forced your penis into her anus although you knew she couldn’t tolerate anal sex. She screamed, wept, begged you to stop, but you held her down for more than ten minutes until you ejaculated, leaving her injured and bleeding. You claimed to love her but you abused her brutally. Nicholas Groth would have classed it as ‘punitive rape’. Now, explain your action.”

The question ‘How the hell do you know all this?’ leapt into my mouth, but I swallowed it. Questioning my interrogators would have been a bad move. In any case, thanks to Ms Kurtag’s kick I couldn’t speak in more than a whisper. Laura had been working as an escort, I told them, so I’d spent two years living with a whore without knowing she was a whore. Of course I’d been enraged. But although what I did was punitive, it wasn’t rape. I’d warned Laura when we started to live together that if she was ever unfaithful to me I’d fuck her up the arse, so I did what I’d promised.

Taking turns to speak, the four women explained the magnitude of my offence. Laura had loved me. When her relationship with me began I hadn’t yet inherited money, I didn’t own my flat, I hadn’t published anything and my editing business was making little profit. So to keep me in the style we both wanted, she chose to supplement the meagre income from her office job without having to give up too much of the time she could spend with me. It was an act of self-sacrifice, done to support me until I became financially self-sufficient. Did I imagine she wanted to service other men’s sexual demands? And the rest of the time she was my domestic chattel, cleaning and shopping and cooking, washing and ironing, so I’d time to write. Also, of course, she shared my bed. And I’d rewarded her devotion by raping her and casting her out of my life.

Memories shimmered through the mists of indignation and wrath evoked by those verbal barbs. After we’d lived together for two months, Laura was working longer and often irregular hours, but I hadn’t questioned her. She was earning more, much more. Then one night I’d learned the truth from a man in the pub. He’d seen me with Laura and told me what a great blow-job ‘Krystal’ did and how much cheaper she was than many of the sluts you could book online. I dragged him outside and beat him unconscious, earning myself a cracked rib and a black eye and bleeding mouth in the process. Then I went home and looked up ‘Krystal’ on AdultWork. There she was, my Laura, the love of my life, offering strangers the services I thought were reserved for me, posing for photos in lingerie I’d bought for her. Yes, I punished her. What man wouldn’t?

“If she’d told me at the outset I’d have forgiven her,” I said, “but she didn’t.”

This time it was Ms Grüber who marched forward and kicked my balls. I’d forgotten to keep my voice high-pitched. She was no gentler than Ms Kurtag, so minutes passed before I could kneel upright again. While I was doubled over, Ms Curtis asked me how I could possibly have expected Laura to confess to being a sex worker, since I’d threatened her with brutality if she were ever unfaithful?

“She hadn’t meant to continue working as an escort as long as she did,” said Ms Siddall, “but like many women she couldn’t give up the income.”

“She broke my heart,” I gasped.

“No, Specimen Ten, you broke hers. What you did to Laura Renshaw epitomised your attitude to women. You treated her as a possession, an object. You behaved like an owner, not a lover. You threw her away like a suit you’d outgrown or a toy of which you’d tired. You ruined her life.”

Ms Siddall rose from her seat while she was speaking. The other three followed her. As they reached the exit, Ms Curtis summoned two guards to supervise the remainder of the session.

“We know how loving you were, Specimen Ten,” she said. “Do you recall the insults you hurled at Laura during sex games? ‘Minge like a hippo’s yawn’, I believe? ‘Cunt the width of the Dartford Tunnel, though the Dartford Tunnel hasn’t had as much traffic through it?’ Can you imagine how those comments hurt when she was escorting for your sake? Your behaviour was swinish and you’ll pay for it.”

But those comments were made in fun, I wanted to protest, not meant seriously.

“Victim make special request to Ms Takamitsu,” said Ms Kurtag. Her grin was predatory. “Ms Takamitsu do as victim ask.”

“That’s guaranteed, Zsófia,” said Ms Curtis. “We can rely on Hiromi.”

As soon as they’d left I was made to sit and watch a film reconstruction of my forced anal penetration of Laura. When I tried to close my eyes or cover my ears or turn my head aside, the guards administered an electric shock and the film began again from the beginning. I’d no choice but to keep watching, to witness every recorded detail of my assault on the woman I loved.

For the first time in my life I was suicidal.

* * * * * * * *
I needed music: a Bach chorale, a Beethoven quartet, something that encompassed the whole gamut of emotions and brought them into harmony. During my captivity I’d often hankered after music, but now I needed it as a man lost in the desert needs water. There was nothing to supply the want. I was locked away with only my personal maelstrom of thoughts and feelings for company and nothing but my mental resources to control them.

Music! Memories inundated me now: sitting beside Laura in the grand circle of the concert hall revelling in orchestral fireworks and soloists’ virtuosity, or on the sofa at home listening to CDs of Debussy Préludes or Chopin Etudes; walking in the Lake District and the Highlands, the Yorkshire Dales and the South Downs Way, identifying wildflowers and delighting in rippling brooks, lark-song at sunrise, the immobility of hunting herons, a glimpse of a water-vole or otter; cruising around headlands and islands under blue summer skies; touring prehistoric stone circles and burial mounds; delighting in the whisper of snowfall, like lambs-wool slippers or moths’ wings beating; watching films – black-and-white spookies, animated cartoons, action adventures; and making love - in bed, on the sheepskin rug in front of a log fire, in the car, in the wood, or against the study wall. She was multi-orgasmic, my Laura. I used to count the number of times she came during our protracted sex sessions. I was disappointed if she didn’t reach double figures.

Oh Laura, Laura! I was crying; uncontrollable paroxysms of grief. What had I lost? What had I done? Why had I been so blind, so stupid, so callous? Why had I failed to cherish what had been most precious? Tears soaked the carpet on which I writhed in self-recrimination.

The four women were right. What I’d inflicted on the person I loved, the person who’d loved me until I drove her away, could never be forgiven. I deserved what was in store for me, and more.

Still weeping, I struggled to my feet and stared into the mirror. The image bore only a passing resemblance to my former self, Douglas Hendry: the angular, hard-muscled form of the fit young man had blurred into an array of soft curves, slim, lightweight, hairless and feeble. Even the face had lost its structure. The bones seemed thinner and lighter. But I’d begun to grasp what Mandy and the others had long understood: whatever Hiromi Takamitsu had planned for me would be no more than my just deserts. The rubbish between my legs had to go. It was useless and dangerous.

I’d indulged in castration fantasies from late adolescence and they’d given me years of sexual pleasure, yet I’d have defended my genitals to the death against a real threat of emasculation. This had changed. During recent months I’d seen such fantasies made real, men losing their cocks and balls in retribution for crimes against women, and my responses had blended excitement with revulsion and disbelief. But now I faced the same life-changing event I no longer felt horror or anger or fear, no longer wanted to defend the parts I was destined to lose. The prospect wasn’t sexually exciting, as the fantasies had been, but I welcomed it; at least, I was resigned to it. Perhaps, in former times, convicted criminals had faced the prospect of execution with similar relief. Also, many people who’re dying of incurable diseases enter a state of calm acceptance during the closing weeks of their lives. I empathised with them.

Never before had I understood the urge to self-harm, but when I clutched the remote and administered a shock to my already-aching balls, the excruciating pain calmed my tormented emotions; water in the desert. Luckily, I’d no means of killing myself.

* * * * * * * *
Forty-eight hours later I met my castratrix. By then, my physical recovery was sufficient for me to have resumed exercises, training classes and cleaning and cooking duties. I ached all over but I was mobile. Emotionally, however, I was wrung out. I remembered how Specimen Five’s confession in Part Two of the film had seemed mechanical, devoid of feeling. Now I understood. As my mind ran its tape-loop of my treatment of Laura, the same adjectives applied: mechanical, factual, detailed.

Ms Takamitsu marched into my cell followed by Ms Curtis, Ms Kurtag and two other Japanese women. None of the women I’d met during my captivity was beautiful or even attractive. Ms Kurtag was perhaps the ‘sexiest’ one but her personality would have deterred male interest. Ms Takamitsu would politely have been described as ‘plain’; she was middle-aged and plump.

She was businesslike and efficient, though. She ordered my erection alarm to be temporarily disabled and then she examined me. Using her left hand, she made my cock stand. I’d learned to be disgusted by erections, so the sight and the feeling of a hard dick sticking out of my pubis nauseated me. None of the five women showed any interest in it. Ms Takamitsu measured the organ’s length and girth and her younger companion wrote the numbers in a black notebook. They exchanged comments in Japanese, laughing; Ms Kurtag joined in. Then the castratrix ordered me to crawl on my hands and knees and turn round. She pulled my buttocks apart and grunted.

“How big dildo use on this specimen?” she said.

Ms Curtis presented the dildo with which my anus was currently being stretched. Ms Takamitsu measured it.

“Need bigger one before specimen go to post,” she said. “See to it please, Mandy.”

“Of course, Hiromi,” said Ms Curtis.

They reactivated my erection alarm as they left but I’d no need to use the remote. My cock was limp before they reached the door.

* * * * * * * *
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