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Chapter One

There were eight young women sitting in a semi-circle in wicker chairs in the austere lecture room. Any observer would have been immediately taken by their uniformity. All were in short, sheer blue dresses that revealed that they wore no undergarments. All had long hair that fell at least to the shoulders, and all were attractive. Some, of course, were more attractive than others, but all had been given great care to nurture what they had been born with.

During their years at The Maiden Conservatory, every day they had worn their khaki colored uniforms of skirts and button up blouses. But on this day, the day upon which they would leave The Maiden Conservatory, they would leave as women. Their minimal dress on this day was their symbol of acknowledgment that they were being sent forth to serve as sexual mates for the overseers. It was their celebration of going out into society as women worthy of being desired.

Four of the women had dark hair, two of them with ebony skin, and three of the young beauties had blonde hair. The one with the long, full red hair stood out from the others.

They were also all remarkably fit, their muscle tone evident and only serving to enhance their attractiveness. For that matter, aside from the age difference, they had much in common with the woman who sat on the desk at the front of the room addressing them.

Natalie Moon was forty-three years old and as attractive as any of her young charges. She still had the athletic but curvaceous figure she had enjoyed when she was a young woman like the 18 and 19-year-olds who sat in front of her and gave her their full attention. She was a vision of desire in her own right in the long red dress that clung to and flattered her own curvature. She was not only the lifestyle instructor for these young women in their final year at the conservatory. She was also a role model, and one of her duties was to exhibit the importance of attractiveness and sensuality that were a critical part of entering Midland society as a high maiden. She was also to instill in the young women that acceptance of society’s rules, laws and customs was to be acknowledged with a matter of fact attitude.

She continued to talk about what the young women had accomplished during the past eight years while they had resided and been trained at The Maiden Conservatory. All of them sat listening patiently, though with some trepidation as they faced leaving the protective cocoon they had known for so long to be sent out into the world to serve as high maidens in the small nation now called Midland.

Natalie stood and walked toward the table that had been placed at the front of the room, where eight leather satchels with the engraved first names of the eight women rested. She put a finger to her lips and turned to smile at her small audience, then gestured at the satchels with a sweeping motion of her hand. “Of course, as you are dismissed later today from The Maiden Conservatory and transported to the Transition Compound, you will take these bags with you. As you likely know, every year the class leaving The Maiden Conservatory is given one of these, and as you know, there are some very… special… items that are included every year.”

The young women responded with a combination of giggles and laughter, looking at each other and nodding.

Natalie picked up one of the satchels and carried it to her desk. She held it up so that they could see the name inscribed on it: Karina. “Let’s just see what is in Karina’s bag.”

The girls once again began to laugh, the red haired Karina blushing in self-consciousness and anticipation.

Natalie pulled out a copy of the Journal. “Of course, if you have been completing your reading assignments over the past several years, you will have read the Journal in its entirety at least twice. And always remember, ladies, a successful high maiden will always turn to the Journal for guidance and inspiration, as well as to answer any questions about life in Midland.

“And here is an up-to-date directory of the towns, cities and villages in Midland, including important telephone numbers for services and administration, as well as the telephone numbers for the most important citizens you may have to contact.”

Natalie then went through an assortment of grooming and beauty items being given to the newest high maidens, then reached dramatically into the bag once more. “And, as you know, all of you also will receive the last item in your bag, but for our unforgettable Karina, it is likely to be put to quite frequent use in the years ahead.” With a flourish, she pulled out a small paddle to the howls and delight of the young women, except for Karina, who buried her face in her hands as her face turned red while she absorbed the good-natured ribbing and wisecracks from her instructor and companions.

The laughing instructor continued to hold the paddle on display, with Karina’s name written on one side in calligraphy. And while the group continued to laugh and giggle, each of them knew that their own satchel contained one with their own name on it.

The instructor put the paddle back in the bag, and the students noticed that her own face was turning red. “These paddles have been crafted in the same manner now for more than three decades.” She reached behind and dramatically rubbed her bottom. “And I can attest to you that they are very efficient, effective and well crafted.” The girls began to laugh once more before she continued. “And to this day, the one I presented to my own overseer mate upon our formal union still works quite well.” Once again, the room was full of giggles and laughter.

Natalie’s expression grew a little more businesslike. “Our tradition is that I reinforce to you once again what awaits you, and that small paddle in your bag is both symbolic and important. As you have been told many times, as you are released to continue life in the Transition Compound, you will now be subjected to responsibilities, duties, restrictions… and discipline, that will be new to you.

“As you have been told many times in your years of formal instruction, Midland was formed in 2037 with the expressed goal of reestablishing an orderly society after all the trauma the former people called Americans who lived here had suffered. And, of course, part of that orderliness involves obedience and submission to discipline when your obedience fails.”

Karina raised her hand. “Mrs. Moon… I am still finding it difficult to accept some of the passages in the Journal. It seems that men and women are treated entirely differently in Midland.”

Natalie nodded and pursed her lips, and once again sat on the desk. “Karina, I know that in your history instruction, you and all the others have heard about how artificial intelligence became so advanced that in 2025 the data systems all around the world unified themselves and began to see humans as an enemy. I know that you have already read about computers in your history books, and understand why they were done away with and have been forever banned in Midland. As people struggled to sabotage the unified computer systems, the systems misinterpreted the interference to be acts of hostility from other computer systems, resulting in the Drone War of 2026 from which mankind barely recovered.”

Karina spoke up once again. “I understand that we lost all of our technology and millions of people from starvation and lack of medical care. I still don’t understand why that resulted in women being so subservient to men.”

Natalie began to laugh, reached into Karina’s satchel once more, and flashed the paddle in front of the class with a flourish as they all laughed. “I believe this is going to be well used.

“When society had to regroup, what used to be America was too large and too diverse to stay organized with the loss of communications. Of course, much recovery has taken place, now that we have electricity, telephones and radio once again. I know that you have all heard it said often that we are a 1940 society, because we have managed to get back to where we were technology-wise, at that point in America’s history.

“And of course, that ban on computers and anything resembling artificial intelligence means that such things will never be allowed again. But as to your question about gender, Karina, our founders who established Midland decided that for everyone’s protection, it would be best to return to a more basic and traditional society where men were dominant. They believed that not only were men physically stronger, but also more practical in matters of security. And for a society whose first priority was simply one of survival, that way of thinking prevailed. After all, life was suddenly more cruel, and raw strength was by necessity the most valued commodity.”

Karina spoke up once again. “But why hasn’t that changed by now? Our intellects are equal to those of men. I think it’s time for us to have equal say in our lives.”

Natalie folded her hands, a thoughtful expression on her face. “I understand, but life as we have structured it is working for us. After all, Karina, your mother was a high maiden, as was I, and your father was one of the more attractive and desired overseers in this region of Midland. In fact, I remember when he was directing some laborers in the Transition Compound and he met your mother, of course before they made their union and adopted you.”

Natalie began to giggle and her face turned red. “In fact, your father was the first man that I went through a courting process with. The second was Walter Moon, and I have been with him for twenty-three years. Of course, your father was the first man who ever commanded me to hand my paddle to him after I had been disrespectful to a precinct commissioner. The commissioner said that either your father could discipline me, or he would. Luckily for me, your father took care of business.”

The room was full of high-pitched laughter as Karina spoke once again. “I’ve never heard that story. And I’ve never known my father to spank my mother.”

Natalie laughed once more. “I am assuming that your mother is a very obedient and respectful woman. If that is the case, her paddle’s probably in some dresser drawer or in a closet gathering dust.

“I had argued with the commissioner about the curfew for women, and your father came to my rescue. The commissioner simply took his word that he was going to discipline me. So your father took me to my cabin, the same as all of you will live in at the high maiden complex. We went inside, and without even being asked, I reached inside my bag, took out the paddle and handed it to him. He made me bend over the bed, and he gave me a spanking I would never forget.”

Once more, the room was filled with laughter, and Natalie allowed it to die down before she spoke once more. “I can’t imagine that there are any among you who have not heard about commissioner-level punishment, but just to be sure…”

A meek smile came across her face. “Karina’s father made good use of my paddle that day… as has my own mate on several occasions since then.” There was once again scattered laughter.

“In fact, he bared my bottom and spanked me with that paddle so well that it was impossible for me to sit down the rest of the day. However, if I had been taken to the commissioner’s quarters, I would have been stripped, shackled, and spanked by him much harder and with a larger paddle.

“You all know that as you leave today for the Transition Compound, you will all receive one ceremonial, but real, swat from Commissioner Grayson of the Rose Precinct to send you on your way. It is part of your rite of passage into adulthood. But it is also necessary, so that you will always know what awaits you for any egregious disobedience. Of course, should that ever happen, you will feel the paddle many times before the commissioner is finished with you.”

The young women looked at each other nervously, as most of them had declined to discuss that part of their farewell to The Maiden Conservatory. On those rare occasions when it had come up in conversation, they would try to brush it off with an air of bravado.

The instructor continued. “It is simply our tradition now. As you leave, you are given just a little taste of the discipline you could face if necessary. It will hurt, but it is only one.”

Nonetheless, they knew that attired only in their sheer and filmy little blue dresses, bending over to receive just one whack from the intimidating commissioner would be both embarrassing and quite painful. And as they would occasionally glance at the clock on the wall as Natalie Moon conducted their last session, they knew that the time was drawing near.

“…and all of you should understand by now, that during your years at The Maiden Conservatory, while we have taught you obedience to the Journal and the ways of life in Midland, we have also tried to provide you with that strict regimen of physical training so many of you moaned and groaned about through the years.

“Of course, you were never subjected to any type of corporal punishment, knowing that too much misbehavior would result in your going back to live among your biological kin as laborers and breeders. But now that you’re adults, you will be held responsible for your words and deeds, and must always keep your paddle nearby should it be demanded by any commissioner or overseer. The only other person who can subject you to corporal punishment is the supreme maiden.”

The mention of Cecelia Powell resulted in murmurs among the young women, for a reputation for harsh discipline had been well deserved by the woman who would ultimately rule them during their twelve months in the Transition Compound. The supreme maiden of any precinct also had disciplinary authority over all maidens, whether single or a partner in a union. Her word was final, subject to overruling only by the precinct commissioner.

Natalie stepped toward the group of eight young women, her arms crossed and a grim expression evident. “Listen to this carefully. I want to warn all of you against disobeying or showing disrespect to the supreme maiden. She will not bother with the small paddles you are being issued today.” Natalie looked out over the group of young women who were now listening to her intently. “She has one of her own that she has become quite proficient with.” Her arms still crossed, she scanned the room. “I have been a witness to it. You don’t want to experience that.”

Natalie began to pace slowly back and forth in the front of the room. “Commissioner Grayson will be joining us momentarily to… um… send you on your way.” A smile crept across her face. “The day I left for the Transition Compound, I went through this.” She reached back once again and placed her hands on her bottom. “I survived…” A sinister grin appeared on her face. “Just barely.” Some nervous giggling could be heard in the room.

“For a maximum of one year, you will receive individualized instruction on obedience, the customs of Midland and ways to become a good physical companion for the overseer with whom you will eventually form a union. You will also be given orientation on child rearing, so that when a child is assigned to you to raise, you can provide a good and loving home.”

Once again, Karina spoke up. “For those of us who adopt little girls, are they going to have to have tubal ligations when they turn twelve like we did?”

Natalie nodded in the affirmative. “I don’t think that policy is going to change. The laborers and breeders have a hard time supporting their remaining children. As a society, we need to be careful that we do not overextend our capacity for food production and available shelter. As it is, there are more than enough children. It is much kinder to give them to parents such as yourself and your chosen overseer to raise.”

Natalie’s attention was distracted by a knock on the window of the door. A slight smile creased her face. “I see that Commissioner Grayson is ready for you.” An apprehensive murmur went through the room, and several sets of hands immediately reached back to shield their bottoms. “Everybody come up to the front of the room to take your bag. Inside is a folded slip of paper with a number on it, and when I call out a number between one and eight, you will take your bag and go out to the hallway where Commissioner Grayson… and his paddle… await you.

“You will set your bag down on the floor, bend over and touch your toes and receive your whack. Then, you will pick up your bag and board the little bus waiting outside to take you to the reception drop-off at the Transition Compound.”

The young women stood nervously, some of them biting their nails and others fidgeting with their fingers after they stared at the numbers written on the slip of paper pulled from their bag. Natalie pulled a small jar from a desk drawer, and the women could see that there were several folded slips of paper inside.

“Number six. Report to Commissioner Grayson, and I wish you the best in the Transition Compound.” The face on a tall brunette turned ashen, and she sighed, picked up her bag and walked slowly toward the door and through it. About fifteen seconds later, a loud WHAM followed by a yelp caused the other seven young women to jump in their nervousness.

Natalie reached inside the jar once more. “Number four.” A petite black young lady picked up her bag, shrugged and managed a smile as she walked through the door and out into the hallway. The rest waited tensely until… WHAM!

The anxiety among the remaining six was palpable as Natalie once again pulled a slip of paper from the jar. Karina stared at the large ‘3’ on the slip she was holding.

“Number two.” A willowy blonde woman stood frozen in fear for a moment, biting her lower lip and tears evidently forming in her eyes. Natalie looked at her for a moment. “Miranda…”

The slender young woman squinted her eyes, picked up her bag and took small steps toward the door, hesitating before she finally left the room and walked out into the hallway.

Natalie and the remaining five young women could hear conversation in the hallway, and all of them, even Natalie, felt a bit unnerved when they heard the commissioner’s baritone voice rising in impatience. They all seemed to be unable to breathe until… WHAM… WHAM. Then they heard Miranda crying, as they stood frozen like statues.

Natalie shrugged and shook her head. “I can promise you that she was warned to get in position right away or she was going to get an extra one.” The instructor’s slender hand reached into the jar once more. “Number seven.”

A short blonde woman picked up her bag, exclaimed, “Here we go,” and waved to the others over her shoulder as she nearly jogged through the door and out into the hallway. Once again, they could hear conversation, but it was not at all adversarial, just lighthearted. In fact, they heard their classmate laugh, followed by a chuckle from the commissioner. Then seconds later… WHAM… and a shout of “Woo hoo!” They could hear both of them laughing once again.

Four young women watched nervously as Natalie pulled another slip from the jar. “Number eight, your turn.” A tall woman with strawberry blonde hair lightheartedly slapped her forehead, turned on her heel and walked briskly to the door and to her fate in the hallway. This time there was no discernible conversation, just a loud… WHAM as Natalie once again reached inside the jar. “Number five.”

Karina’s heart was racing in anxiety as she had to wait still longer, and she assumed that the same was the case with the others remaining as they watched their raven haired friend Carrie with the dark brown skin sigh loudly and dramatically, throw her hand over her eyes as if horrified, then stroll to the door as if she were going to pick up an ice cream cone. Seconds later came the expected… WHAM… followed by a loud squeal, but then laughter that they knew emanated from Carrie.

Now Karina waited with her close friend Gina. Karina felt her breathing becoming shallow and rapid as she watched Gina nervously wrapping strands of her dark brown hair around her fingers.

Natalie reached into the jar yet again, and began to announce the number, but then halted, bringing groans from the two young women who found no humor in the situation. “Number one.”

Karina’s nervous friend responded with a roll of the eyes, then picked up her bag, issued a dramatic salute to Natalie and Karina before turning and walking slowly but steadily out of the room.

Karina found herself unconsciously placing her hands on her bottom as she waited before hearing the inevitable… WHAM. She did not realize that she had quietly whimpered upon hearing the impact.

Karina knew that it was now her turn, so she took a deep breath, closed her eyes, picked up her bag and walked slowly toward the door. She stepped out into the hallway and saw the frightening image of Commissioner Grayson standing there looking muscular and stern, his gray hat and matching armband the only visible signs of his position of significant authority.

But what captured her attention the most as she walked slowly and hesitantly toward him was the lengthy paddle he was holding, two parallel lines of holes drilled to increase its effectiveness. She did not want any conversation, any words of assurance, and she would most certainly, not at that moment, offer any words of opposition.

Commissioner Grayson was not a stranger to her or the other residents of The Maiden Conservatory. In fact, he was the chairman of the committee of five overseers who directed The Maiden Conservatory. Therefore, he was well acquainted with those who attended the small institution, and in all likelihood their attitudes and willingness to accept the precepts of the Journal. And she had to assume that her frequent questioning of the ways of Midland had become a topic of discussion from time to time.

In fact, Karina had encountered him on numerous occasions when he was visiting The Maiden Conservatory for functions or meetings. When the young residents had prepared a dinner for the governing committee, Karina had personally served Grayson, and he had spoken to her at length about her studies. Their relationship had been cordial but cool, as Karina had sensed that it was well known that she was always the first to ask “Why?” And of course, Karina had always known that the day would come when she would be sent forth into adulthood with the ceremonial and obligatory whack with the paddle from someone she assumed would take great satisfaction in doing so in her case.

They quietly said hello to each other, and then Karina took several steps away to place her bag on the floor. As she stepped back to where the commissioner waited, she wondered if he was likely to bring the board to her eighteen year-old backside with an added touch of enthusiasm. POW… and he did indeed. As the paddle made impact, Karina clenched her already clenched teeth even tighter, and more tightly squeezed shut her already closed eyes.

She did not know that upon standing upright, she would see the commissioner extending a congratulatory hand as he wished her the best in the future. She gulped and managed to utter a thank you in response, then hurried to pick up her bag and go on her way to the waiting bus before the tears brimming in her eyes were allowed to begin running down her cheeks.



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