John Norman

Slave Girl Of Gor

(Chronicles of Counter-Earth-11)

1 The Collar

I lay in the warm grass. I could feel it, the warm, individual green blades, separate, gentle, on my left cheek; I could feel them on my body, my stomach and thighs. I stretched my body, my toes. I was sleepy. I did not wish to awaken. The sun was warm on my back, even hot, almost uncomfortable. I snuggled deeper into the grass. My left hand was extended. My fingers touched the warm dirt between the grass blades. My eyes were closed. I resisted the coming of consciousness. I did not wish to emerge from bed. Consciousness seemed to come slowly, dimly. I did not wish to emerge from bed. I wished to prolong the warmth, the pleasantness. I moved my head, slightly. My neck seemed to wear a weight; I heard the soft clink, a tiny stirring, of heavy links of metal.

I did not understand this.

I moved my head again, sleepily, eyes closed, to its original position. Again I felt the weight, circular, heavy, on my neck; again I heard the small sound, the stirring, simple and matter of fact, of heavy metal links.

I opened my eyes, part way, keeping them half shut against the light I saw the grass, green and close, each blade seeming wide, blurred in its nearness. My fingers dug into the warm earth. I closed my eyes. I began to sweat. I must emerge from bed. I must snatch breakfast, hurry to class. It must be late. I must hurry.

I remembered the cloth slipped over my mouth and nose, the fumes, the strength of the man who had held me. I had squirmed, but had been held in his grip, helpless. I was terrified. I had tried not to breathe. I had struggled, but futilely. I was terrified. I had not known a man could be so strong. He was patient, unhurried, waiting for me to breathe. I tried not to breathe. Then, lungs gasping, helpless, had at last inhaled, deeply, desperately, taking the sharp, strangling fumes deep into my body. In an instant, choking in the horrid, obdurate fumes, unable to expel them, unable to evade them. sickened, I had lost consciousness.

I lay in the warm grass. I could feel it on my body. I must emerge from bed. I must snatch breakfast, and hurry to class. Surely it must be late. I must hurry.

I opened my eyes, seeing the grass blades not inches from my face, wide, blurred. I opened my mouth, delicately, and felt the grass brush my lips. I bit into a blade and felt the juice of the grass, on my tongue.

I closed my eyes. I must awaken. I remembered the clothe the strength of the man, the fumes.

My fingers dug deep into the dirt. I clawed at it. I felt the dirt beneath my fingernails. I lifted my head, and rolled screaming, awakening, tangled in the chain, in the grass. I sat upright. In an instant I realized I was nude. My neck wore its encircling weight; the heavy chain, attached to the collar, dropped between my breasts and over my left thigh.

'No! No!' I cried. 'No!'

I leaped to my feet screaming. The chain's weight depended from the collar, heavily, gracefully. I felt the collar pulled down, against my collarbone. The chain passed now between my legs, behind the left calf, then lifting. I jerked wildly at it. I tried to thrust the collar up, over my head. I turned it, again tried to thrust it up, over my head. I scraped my throat, hurting it. My chin was forced up; I saw the bright sky, blue with its startlingly white clouds. But I could not slip the collar. It fitted me closely. Only my small finger could I thrust between its weight and my neck. I moaned. The collar could not be slipped. It had not been made to be slipped. Irrationally, madly, nothing in my consciousness but my fear and the chain, I turned to flee, and fell, hurting my legs, tangled in the chain. I, on my knees, seized the chain, pulled at it, weeping. I tried to back away, on my knees; my head was pulled cruelly forward. I held the chain. It was some ten feet long. It extended to a heavy ring and plate fastened in a great granite rock, irregular, but some twelve feet in width and depth, some ten feet in height. The plate, with its ring, was attached near the center of the rock, low, about a foot above the grass. The rock had apparently been drilled and the plate fastened with four linear bolts. They may have passed through the entire width of the rock and been clinched on the other side. I did not know. On my knees I pulled at the chain. I wept. I cried out. I pulled again at the chain. I hurt my hands; it moved not a quarter of an inch. I was fastened to the rock.

I rose moaning to my feet, my hands on the chain. I looked about myself. The rock was prominent. There was none like it in view. I stood on a rolling plain, grassy and gentle, widely sweeping, trackless. I saw nothing but the grass, it moving in the soft, unhurried wind, the distant horizon, the unusually white clouds and blue sky. I was alone. The sun was warm. Behind me was the rock. I felt the wind on my body, but not directly, as the plate in the stone was on the sheltered side of the rock. I wondered if the wind was a prevailing one. I wondered if the plate and chain were so situated in order that the chain's prisoner, such as I found myself to be, be protected from the wind. I shuddered.

I stood alone. I was nude. I, small, white, was chained by the neck to that great rock on the seemingly endless plain.

I breathed deeply. Never in my life had I breathed such air. Though my head was chained I threw it back. I closed my eyes. I drank the atmosphere into my lungs. Those who have never breathed such air cannot know the sensations which I then felt. In so simple a thing as the air I breathed I rejoiced. It was clean and clear; it was fresh, almost alive, almost sparkling with the exhilaration of swift, abundant, pristine oxygen. It was like the air of a new world, one yet innocent of the toxins of man's majority, the unquestioned gifts, ambiguous, poisoned, of civilization and technology. My body became vital and alive. So simply did a proper oxygenation of my system work its almost immediate effect in my feeling and awareness. Those who have never breathed the air of a clean world cannot understand my words. And perhaps those who have breathed only such an atmosphere may, too, tragically, fail to comprehend. Until one has breathed such air can one know the glory of being alive?

But I was lonely, and frightened.

It was a strange world on which I stood, wide and unfamiliar, open, bright and clean. I looked out upon the vast fields of grass. I had never smelled grass before. It was so fresh, so beautiful. My senses were alive. In this atmosphere, my blood charged with oxygen, I found that I could detect odors which had eluded me before; it was as though an entire new dimension of experience had suddenly opened to me; yet I suppose it was only that here, in this place, my body did not have reason to fight its world, shutting it out, forcing it from consciousness in order not to be distracted or sickened; here there was an atmosphere which was unsoiled, undefiled, one in which the human could be a part of nature, not a rampart raised against her, not a defensive sojourner treading at night, stepping softly, scarcely daring to breathe, through the country of enemies. My vision, too, in this pure air, was keener. I could see farther and with greater detail than had been possible before in the clouded, contaminated atmosphere in which I had been raised. How far away seemed the familiar pollutions of the gray world I remembered. On certain days there I had thought the air clean, and had delighted in its freshness. How little I had known. How foolish I had been. It had been only less murky, less dismal, only a sign of what a world might be. My hearing, too, seemed acute. The wind brushed the grass, moving in it, stirring the gleaming leaves. Colors, too, seemed richer, deeper, more vivid. The grass was richly green, alive, vast; the sky was blue, deeply blue, far deeper than I had known a sky could be; the clouds were sharp and white, protean and billowing, transforming themselves in the pressures of their heights and the winds which sped them; they moved at different heights at different speeds; they were like great white birds, stately and majestic, turning, floating in the rivers of wind. I felt the breezes of the field on my exposed body; I trembled; every bit of me seemed alive.

I was frightened.

I looked at the sun. I looked away, down, then across the fields.

I was aware now, as I had not been before, or so clearly, of the difference in the feel of my body and its movements. There seemed a subtle difference in my body weight, my movements. I thrust this comprehension from my mind. I could not admit it. I literally forced it from consciousness. But it returned, persistent. It could not be denied. 'No!' I cried. But I knew it was true. I tried to thrust from my mind what must be, what had to be, the explanation of this unusual phenomenon. 'No!' I cried. 'It cannot be! No! No!'

Numbly I lifted the chain which hung from the collar fastened on my neck. I looked at it, disbelievingly. The

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