Ellie cursed her luck, in fact she cursed everything, as the car pulled slowly over to the kerb, then came to a sudden halt. It was about to rain heavily as well, the few spit spots of rain on her windscreen and the ominous black clouds told her that. She undid her seat belt and was about to press the phone button on her console to dial her parents, when the screen began flashing red. It made her pull her hand away in surprise, her heart jumped a beat. It jumped even more a moment later.
“This is the State Traffic Bureau. You have committed traffic violations and your vehicle has been stopped. Do not attempt to leave the vehicle.”
Ellie looked around, hearing a click of the vehicle locking mechanism. The monotone female voice then continued.
“Your offences are as follows; Code 2/736b Speeding – namely doing thirty seven in a thirty miles per hour maximum speed area. Code 3/45a Traffic Control Violation – namely driving through Traffic Lights when the signal was red.”
There was a pause, Ellie wondered if she was supposed to say something. Say what though, she knew that she had risked the light and speeded up to try to beat it. Late leaving college, after her teacher had kept her chatting about the merits of punctuality. Now due to being late to meet her boyfriend Kyle she was in even more trouble.
“Your vehicle will be driven to the nearest Traffic Control Office where you will report to the Main Reception. Please put on your seat belt and stay seated. The journey will take seven minutes and twenty seconds and the vehicle will move away shortly. Thank you for your cooperation.”
She pulled on the belt and clicked it into place. The flashing red console returned to normal as the vehicle moved right and into the traffic. Ellie was a little freaked, the steering wheel moved without her touching it and the accelerator pedal touched her right foot before she moved it. She looked at the cars passing her going the opposite way and wondered if they knew her vehicle was being driven by… what was it being driven by? A computer or an actual person sat in an office somewhere, his or her hands using a driving simulator to manoeuvre the car towards its destination.
It pulled into a car park, even reversed into a free space before coming to a halt. The red flashing returned to the console followed by the unknown voice.
“You have reached the Traffic Control Office. In a moment you can exit the vehicle. You must report to the Main Reception within five minutes. Do not attempt to leave the area or drive this vehicle away as additional offences will be added to the report. Please remember to take your driving licence and keys with you. Thank you for your cooperation.”
The doors unlocked and automatically taking the keys Ellie picked up her handbag before sliding out of the vehicle. She was facing a small non-descript red brick building with two windows and a glass door, which had above it a sign – Main Reception. No other words or indication of what the building was. Ellie looked behind her to see if she recognised any other buildings, as the drive here had not been a familiar one. Then it was a very strange experience, being driven, sat in the driver’s seat, yet not having any control over what was happening.
There was just a red coloured counter inside the glass door with a sign on it ‘Please stand on the red square’ Ellie did just that. The only other thing in the room was a clock high on the wall. It read 16.32.
“Please state your name,” the voice said. It was a different voice although it had the same monotone impersonal sound to it.
“Your date of birth.”
“Fifteen, o six, twenty one o six.”
“Please place all jackets, bags, jewellery and watches in the box provided.”
Ellie looked around but there was nothing else in the room. Then suddenly a drawer in the front of the counter slid open and there was a red plastic tray with her name on it and the number 2124/09/26-17.24-0120 below that.
She removed her short orange jacket, folded it and placed it in the tray, followed by her orange handbag and watch. Then as she straightened up, it seemed to sense she had nothing else, the drawer slid back and her things were gone. Immediately though another drawer opened. It was a lot smaller and contained a round red disc.
“You will place the disc upon the left side of your lower neck,” the voice said without any reference to what it was for.
Ellie dare not disobey, so picked up the coin size disc. It had a plastic backing strip which said ‘Remove.’ She did and gingerly stuck it to her skin just above the collar of her shirt.
“Put the plastic strip back into the tray.”
It startled her, she was wondering what to do with it, but she did just that and the drawer closed once more.
“Turn around and place your hands behind your back.”
As she did a noise came from the counter and then suddenly a tingle on her wrists. She had been placed in Hollocuffs. Knowing immediately what they were, as last semester a police officer had been to the college on their annual fund raiser. She had tried them on with some of her friends. This though was not fun, this was serious. Only criminals got cuffed and led away to the cells.
“Turn to your right and walk through the opening. You will follow the arrows on the wall until you reach room P1. Do not attempt to leave the building or deviate from the path shown. Thank you for your cooperation.”
At that an opening appeared in what seemed a solid white painted wall. All Ellie could see was a long white corridor. Her attention on it was distracted as the disc started to flash red. It all felt very weird, almost as if being controlled by aliens.
Along the corridor she walked slowly, constantly looking at the blinking red arrows along the wall guiding her way. At the end it flashed right. She started down that corridor also painted white. A pair of white painted doors automatically opened as she walked towards them, there beyond them was another long corridor painted white, but this time there were doors along each side. Ellie noticed the arrows had stopped flashing a few paces ahead and looking at the red door numbers she saw upon the third one P1. The door marked P1 opened, she saw a dark room and walked very tentatively inside. The lights automatically came on, she saw four blank walls also painted white. The floor was black vinyl with a red square.
“Stand on the red square,” came the voice, unsurprisingly, as the door closed shut with a click.
Ellie stood on the appointed spot and began to wonder what would happen next. Was she being locked up until someone, not that she knew who, came to see her. Perhaps a police officer or a lawyer, or even her parents. She did know though that if anyone under twenty one years old was caught breaking the law your parents were automatically informed by email. What would her parents say and then she remembered about meeting Kyle at six. What would he say when he knew she was a criminal. This was to be their second date, she been wanting to go out with him for two years but had never found the right words or situation to ask until last weekend. Now it was all in jeopardy, because of her tardiness at college.
“Ellie Michaels, you have broken traffic laws Code 2/736b and Code 3/45a as previously stated to you. You are now here so that we can carry out the sentence imposed upon you for these offences. The mandatory punishment for traffic offences by person under nineteen is corporal punishment and a course on basic driving skills. The corporal punishment will be carried out immediately. If you fail to comply with this you will be kept at the facility until such time as an officer of the law arrives to escort to the Correctional Centre at Montague where you will be charged and incarcerated until your court appearance.”
Ellie was now very scared and confused. On one hand she did not want to accept the punishment but she knew the alternative was much, much worse.
“Turn and face the wall to your right,” the voice said and upon complying she heard a noise before her arms became free. She rubbed her wrists before standing to attention.
A small white wooden table appeared from an opening in the wall.
“You will remove all clothing below the waist and place them upon the table.”
She knew there was no option but comply. It didn’t make it any easier as she undid the button on her pants before sliding them down. She blushed as the thought of someone watching her strip. Her orange and white panties soon followed and joined them on the table, albeit tucked out of view. She stood upright, her hands trying to cover her modesty.
“All clothing below the waist,” the voice said and Ellie knew that they were watching. She bent down, removed her canvas sneakers and placed them next to her pants.
The next noise was the sound of a white wooden bench extending out of the wall. Although a little puzzled for a brief moment, Ellie knew that she would be asked to bend across it, her bare bottom exposed to the voice as she awaited her punishment.
“For the Code 2/736b violation you are to receive six swats of the paddle. For the Code 3/45a violation you are to receive ten swats of the paddle. The total of the two offences is sixteen. As this is your first offence there will be a reduction of two swats. We will administer the fourteen swats consecutively. Please bend across the bench and hold your arms straight towards the wall. Do not move or attempt to stand until instructed to do so. Thank you for your cooperation.”
Her stomach churning with big fat butterflies, Ellie took a deep breath as she bent over the bench, and as instructed held out her arms. Within a blink of her eye she felt tingle on her wrist, as once again Hollocuffs held her arms, though this time it was fast against the wall. The bench lifted slightly and modesty made her press her legs tightly together, trying to hide what no man had seen before, save her father and the doctor who delivered her.
Another noise behind her caught her attention but she was unable to turn her head sufficiently to see what and where it came from. It was in fact from the wall behind as a small door opened and out came a white wooden paddle. It extended slowly towards the offered rear of Ellie Michaels.
“One,” came the voice. Ellie heard a moment before the paddle came crashing into her bare bottom. She stifled a scream as it caught in her throat, more with shock at the paddle striking her and then the burning pain.
“Two,” came the call of the invisible punisher, it struck on its intended target some thirty seconds after the first. Ellie jerked her body involuntarily with the force of the blow.
By the time the voice had called number seven Ellie was in tears, the pain in her bare bottom was now unbearable. She desperately wanted to release her hands and rub the pain away. No chance, the Hollocuffs held her firmly against the bench. All pretence at modesty had gone out the window long ago as she jerked and shook her legs in a vain attempt to ease the discomfort.
Whoosh, followed by a whack as it once again with the exact same force, and on the same place, struck the twitching bottom. It was now a deep red colour, Ellie could feel the heat generated by it.
By the time number thirteen had been called, the implement of punishment struck once again, a now bawling but prone Ellie couldn’t even must up the strength to scream at the pain she felt for a moment. The numb feeling in her bottom returned immediately after. She barely registered that the next would be her last swat.
Ellie lay still on the bench once the Hollocuffs had released her hands. She felt unable to move even to wipe her tear stained face.
“Ellie Michaels, you have completed the allotted punishment for your traffic violations. You may get dressed and leave the room. Please follow the arrows on the wall back to the Main Reception. Do not remove the disc until there. Do not deviate from the directions given and do not leave the building. Thank you for your cooperation.”
Eventually Ellie pushed herself off the bench, which immediately return itself back into the wall. Slowly and very gingerly she got dressed, before making her way back to the entrance. Each step was agony, she felt her clothes rubbing against her sore and swollen bottom.
“Please stand on the red square. You may remove the red disc and place it the drawer.”
Ellie looked down, shuffled her feet a few inches so they were all in the red square. The small drawer opened, she took it off and placed it back from whence it came. The drawer containing her coat, watch and handbag opened as the other one closed. She was unsure if she should touch them without permission but after a few more seconds it was clear they would not be any, so she put on her watch, then her coat and finally her handbag. The drawer closed immediately.
“You will informed by email of the details for your attendance at the basic driving skills course. You are now free to leave the building. Thank you for your cooperation Ellie Michaels.”
Ellie looked up at the clock, it read 17.02. Turning slowly, she walked through the glass and headed towards the car. Sitting in the car was a whole new experience to her as she came into contact with the seat. She sat with her head in her hands wondering if she could make it home. Home, she then realised she had no idea where home was from here and how long it would take. Ellie started the car, turned on the sat nav to take her home.
Little did Ellie realise at that very same moment, her mom had just read, with amazement, an email on her phone from the State Traffic Bureau. Heading towards the bedroom dressing table to fetch her white wooden backed hairbrush, ready for when Ellie arrived home. That would be seventeen minutes and forty two seconds according to the email.