The Collar Around the Heart
Tuesday Morning

Caution: This Romantic Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including mt/ft, Teenagers, Consensual, Romantic, Slavery, BiSexual, Fiction, Science Fiction, MaleDom, Spanking, Light Bond, Group Sex, First, Oral Sex, Anal Sex,

Desc: Romantic Sex Story: Tuesday Morning - James is sixteen today, and his birthday present is pretty unusual. But the future is a foreign country; they do things differently there.

I woke before the alarm clock, and it came to me instantly. I was sixteen today! The grin was over my whole body. It was my birthday and as of this morning, it was all going to be soooo different. There on the wall calendar was the big red ring around the date: September 23rd, 2096.

Just 12 hours ago, I had been a child; a minor; a "should be seen and not heard ". But from here on, I could vote, I could own property, and I could join the Guards. Now I was a person of importance. Hell, now I could have sex. Yesterday, to be caught in bed with a girl would have meant disgrace for her, and probably a collar for me. Today, it was not only allowed, it was expected. Just like marriage. My grin faded as I thought of what my Mother was planning for Saturday night. But what the hell, I decided, I was not going to dwell on that now.

I leapt up and glanced in the mirror. Funnily enough, I looked just the same. There were the sandy hair and the blue eyes in an ordinary sort of face. The rest of me was tall, although not too thin, and looking bloody stupid in those paisley flannel pyjamas. One of my first tasks was going to be getting myself a new wardrobe, without the assistance of my mother. But that was not all I would be getting.

While I stripped off and got in the shower my mind was racing. Because today I could drive a car and I could ride a motorbike. Not only that, I could own a motorbike. And not just any motorbike. Today, my miserly parents were going to splash out on that sixteenth birthday gift, the one everyone would be looking at. And I knew what it was going to be.

But as I dried myself, my daydreaming was interrupted by the sight of the four-piece suit laid out for me by my Mother. I stared at the sky blue velvet waistcoat, and winced at the yellow lace trim. Forget that. It took me only a few minutes to assemble an outfit more to my liking, mostly in black and white, although the gold buttons at least, were a sop to my parent's tastes.

Then I picked up my favourite copy of Bike and thumbed through to the dog-eared pages, to the review of the Tomahawk 720Si. While my fingers flew over my cravat, tying the knot just so almost by themselves, I gloated again over the photos of the glossy red darling. I could not help running down the tech spec again. The review at the end had only one caveat — the price. £14,358. I had done the calc. often enough; the options I needed, the plates, the road tax, the delivery, even the fuel cells. That was the number.

But I knew my parents had the lolly, and on this sort of occasion, when out-doing the Jones with a gob smacking present was what custom demanded, they had never stinted before. They had to know what to do. There had been so many hints, all those contrived conversations, the magazines left open at the right page, never mind the visits to the local dealer. All right, it would have been beyond the pale to just out and ask for it. But they couldn't not know, and after all these years and all those cock-ups they couldn't refuse me now. I was due it, they owed it and today I was going to get it.

Now presentable, I skipped the stairs in three jumps and bounced into the dining room. This room always depressed me with its over-crowded opulence, even in a house groaning with pelmets, antimacassars and lace doilies. But there they were: Mother, Father and the collar, all dressed in their best and waiting for the birthday boy.

Mother was in a long gown I had not seen before, and I had a nasty suspicion that she had had it made for the occasion. The dark green skirts fell in folds across the floor, contrasting with the ruby red trimmings and flounces, and slashed to display the salmon pink petticoats. Oh well, at least it showed she thought the day was important, and I had to say that, as ever, she made a pretty impressive showing. My Father on the other hand, was in his standard "Sunday best" with the faded lace collars and cuffs. Somehow he never quite got round to thinking of clothing as important, although he was keen enough on every other aspect of upholding our social position.

Still, between the hug and the back clapping I felt a rare and embarrassing surge of warmth for the two of them. Maybe being the only child of this family did not suck so much after all.

Cold normality returned with the food. The Geoffrey served in silence, of course, and the stilted politeness that passed for conversation lurched on as usual. The other presents were got out of the way. The fone was actually pretty cool. Of course everyone gets a new fone when they turn sixteen, because it has to have all the new access rights and functions that go with the territory. But Father had picked out a retro model that was the actual shell of a pre-Crash Rolex watch from a hundred years ago, fitted out with the electronics. There was a nice necklace mike, a really comfortable earpiece and smart stuff inside as well. That is my interest, fone units and their software. That is what I am going to do for a living when I get my Trust sorted.

Actually the Trust doc. should be here as well. I rifled through the cards and other rubbish until Father saw I was hunting for something and handed me an envelope with a smile. It had an Ellis and Baker letterhead (the family lawyers). I scanned it hungrily. Congratulations on the occasion of my ... an invitation to their offices for next Monday ... there! Wow. The fund stood at £247,673. I was stinking rich! That was easily three times as much as I needed to buy me a decent position at Smith and Verity, which was the mob I had my eye on. I was not going to be able to touch it until my eighteenth, but it was nice to remove one worry. And I could draw pocket money until then, up to a hundred a month! Good old Father. No, good old Granddad, after all he was the one who started the ball rolling.

But then there was a pause in the flow of proceedings. We moved through to the drawing room while the collar cleared the kitchen, but the 'rents just sat around, as if waiting for something. Was I supposed to say or do something? Where was it?

Now my Father was rattling bottles in the drinks cabinet — of course, now I was allowed to drink alcohol — while my Mother was babbling something about arrangements for Saturday. I tuned out while doubts started to tug at the edges of my mind. Where would they have put it? Where do you hide a motorbike, a large motorbike, until it is needed? Maybe it wasn't here — maybe we would have to go and get it. When!

The presents are always on the birthday itself. Yes, the Coming-out Ball can be a few days later — Saturday, fine — but the presents have to be today. Why were we hanging around here mucking about with glasses? Sherry! My Father's idea of the fashionable tipple. I sipped and hid the grimace — I knew what it was going to taste like of course. Don't you think I had tried all the bottles in that cabinet already?

But then my frustration was unterrupted by the hiss of air brakes and the unmistakable dying whine of an electro turbine closing down, as a large vehicle rumbled to a halt in the drive outside the house. Of course! It would be delivered by lorry! "I wonder what that could be?" asked my Father, ponderously and knowingly, while my Mother looked at me with an undisguised grin. I gave her a rough hug (rare enough to leave her gasping) and rushed for the front door.

And that is when it all got a bit confusing.

In the sweeping gravel driveway, still ticking, and rocking slightly as the driver stepped down out of the door, was large coach. I stared at it. Not a lorry or a low loader, but a glorified school bus. It was painted dark blue, with big yellow logos for "Berkhamstead Remedial School for Girls". The windows down the sides showed it was full of school kids. Girls. And one was cautiously making its way down the steps after the driver.

He marched up to me; a short officious man in a scruffy uniform with a peaked cap. The girl was being handed a suitcase.

"Pilsbury? James?" I nodded, tongue-tied. "Had one of these before?" I had no idea what he was talking about but it seemed safe to shake my head. "Right. Read this, then sign here ... and here ... and here, and repeat after me;" He gave me no time to read anything, whipping the bits of paper away as fast as I scribbled on them, and then in a rushed monotone recited batches of words which he obviously knew by heart and only too well.

"I, James Pilsbury, do hereby take ... full and ultimate responsibility for the body and actions of ... the collar-restrained person being hereby transferred... " I stopped listening because now I knew what all this was. His words just hit my ears and I repeated them without following them. I took the zapper when he thrust it at me, and stared blindly at the false chrome modelling of the four buttons while other words flooded over me. I let him take my wrist without a murmur while he registered something on my fone, and somehow the folder with the papers and the user manual was in my other hand. Then he was gone, and the bus was gone. The girl with the ring around its neck wasn't.

I could not look at it. I turned slowly to face the house, my world crashing around me. The stupid, stupid, pig-ignorant, interfering shits had gone and bought me a collar.

Collars. I had never really thought about much them before. After the Crash, when the world was in disarray and all the pretentious human rights hypocrisy had collapsed, things apparently looked different. It was a pendulum I suppose — the Pinko beliefs of Freedom, Justice and Liberty for All went from being sacrosanct to questioned to despised in much less time than you would have thought. A lot of it must have been the Crash itself, yet oddly in England anyway it was not that bad.

In most countries, famine, disease and banditry did away with millions, never mind about the actual fighting. Here, we are always told how bad those ten terrible years were, but when you look at the numbers the population only dropped from 55 million to 45 million, or so Mr Millar in History says. Supposedly a lot of that was demographics, you know, people putting off having babies and old people dying earlier. I suspect when survival was a matter of keeping your head down and keeping your place in the queue, the good people in this little island ducked and queued like nobody else could. Yes, of course everything fell apart, but I get the impression that they never thought it would not come back.

But after the Restoration, with good King Harry on the throne, it came back different. And one difference was — no prisons. Oh, there were plenty of candidates. Criminals (now that the kangaroo courts were in full swing), refugees (LOTS of those), prisoners of war (I can see why soldiers from certain countries would take anything rather than go back) and lastly the abandoned and helpless. (Apparently when it is a choice between starving and the chain gang, surprisingly few go for starving). They were all tagged, fed, and put to work.

Rebuilding took millions of people and many years, and the mechanics got sorted out. Now the tags did not just identify you; they could punish you, and even incapacitate you. They moved from around people's ankles to around their necks. The important electronics were put under the skin and got hard wired into the spinal cord at the back of the neck, so the collar itself was just batteries and an aerial. The law caught up, and created a new class, of not a citizen but a "collar restrained person". And, above all, slowest, but implacable and irrevocable, was the most important thing of all — everyone got used to it.

So here we are. There are us stiffs, and the proles, and then there are our collarmen, our collargirls (although for some reason, not collarwomen or collarboys) collarcooks, collarserves, collarmaids, collarsecs; you know. If in doubt, just holler "collar".

Someone once told me that the word used to mean the neck of a shirt. Shirts were bought by "collar size", not neck size. I am not sure I see the link. But of course, the word never heard, even in slang or the underground (yes, I've heard there is one, although it must be pretty ineffectual), is ... slave.

Stiff legged, I marched back into the hallway. There they were, both waiting with expectant smiles on their faces, which somehow dropped when they saw mine. The collargirl followed, shuffling uncertainly.

"How could you!" I cried, furious. "I mean, did you really think, was I joking, maybe I didn't mean, what could you..." I spluttered, incoherent even by my standards.

My Mother held up her hands as if to stop me or ward me off, and started in her ponciest voice, the one she used to talk to her society friends, "James, we understand you are disappointed not to receive the toy you had apparently selected," ... Disappointed! What planet was she from! ... TOY!! ... She ploughed on over my gasps and protestations as if addressing an urchin, "but we feel this is much more appropriate for your development needs. You may be aware of the deficiency in your interpersonal skills, and this... " I had stopped listening. I could hardly believe it but suddenly I knew what all this was about.

"It's another bloody rabbit!" I screamed at her, shaking. "I won't have it! You can't make me!"

"James! Listen!" She was raising her voice now as well. "You cannot go through life..."

"Won't! Not another RABBIT!" I interrupted, shrieking now, heedless of what I sounded like. The collar was staring at me open-mouthed. Clutching the zapper in my hand I fumbled for the Number Four button, the red one, and jammed down on it. The effect was instant, and gratifying. Quiet for one thing. My parents were stunned, too surprised to object, while amazingly the collar too was silent. It folded over, clutching its head in its hands, the mouth gasping fishlike but noiseless, while the red rage enveloped me and my thumb tried to push the red disk through the back of the silly plastic case. I didn't care, I didn't care, I didn't care, ... oddly the sound of tinkling water intruded from somewhere.

"James!" snapped my Father as he slapped my hand, and the zapper dropped from my fingers. The collargirl collapsed into a spreading puddle. What was that smell? Oh, God it had pissed itself! "Why couldn't you just ... you can't make me take another..." I cried, sobbing now, and ran for the stairs. Hot tears stung my eyes, as I blundered my way into my room and slammed the door, HARD.

They wouldn't get me to come out! I would stay here the rest of my Birthday. I would stay here the rest of the week. I would go on hunger strike. When I was helpless and at death's door in hospital, then they'd be sorry! They never understood. Or they did understand, of course they did, they just didn't care! How could they? Would it have been so hard to have let me have what I wanted, just the once?

The reaction took me eventually, as it always did, as I lay face down on my bed. The calm after the storm, the empty lonely place. I turned over, plumped the pillow under my head and stared at the ornate plaster pattern of the ceiling. I did not want to think. Let my mind float empty. Empty, yes, empty was good.

The rabbit happened when I was eight. Looking back I can see that perhaps I was a lonely child. I did not make friends readily; my Father was always engaged in important things to do with local politics; and my Mother was too busy in her never ending struggle to impress her posh friends to have much time for an awkward gangling boy with untameable hair and a tendency to break things. Other Mothers had pretty smiley offspring whose hair would support ribbons, and whose childish accomplishments could be politely admired. I now see I was not much use to her in her tireless social campaigning. So they got me a rabbit. I believe they thought it would be good for me to have to take responsibility for something.

Flopsy, he was called. (It took a month or two to discover he was a "he".) And I took to him like an abandoned sailor to a life ring. Part of it was the whole business of having a miniature world to run, and look after — his bedding, his sleeping quarters, his run, his food, water and cleanliness. I was allowed to extend and "improve" his hutch, and although I doubt he appreciated it I was very proud of my efforts on his little rabbit house in the kitchen garden. But above all, he was tame enough to enjoy being stroked, even being picked up, and stupid enough to put up with endless unnecessary hugs.

Our family had never been one for much touching.

For two years I fed him, watered him and cleaned him out. Then we went on holiday, a rare enough event in those days. No, he was not abandoned. I arranged for this prole called Rob to come over every other day and do the business. He was pretty reliable, for a prole. I got him a key to the back gate, and I was going to pay him out of my own pocket money. To him, that would be a fortune. I did not even tell my parents, partly because they disapproved of Rob of course, and partly because, well, it was my business, not theirs.

But it was when we came back that I forgot. Be sympathetic. I had never been out of Cricklewood before, so to go to a beach in France, which had meant a day on a ship each way, and to spend a whole fortnight with my feet in the sand and my head in the sun — when I returned I felt like I was stepping back from another planet. Even more so because we came back to grey skies and the old perpetual drizzle. It was a week before I even stepped out into the back garden.

It was also a week before Rob foned me to chat — and to remind me about his money for looking after Flopsy. He and I are still friends, much to my Mother's fury, but that is no thanks to the unjustified way I tore into him for not calling me earlier. And my parents? After all the tears and the tantrums; the broken china and the recriminations; after all that, I still do not really know. I think that the idea was to teach me that responsibility is real, that forgetting things has a price. You know, consequences. So they decided to just wait and see how long it would take me to remember that I had a rabbit. And so let Flopsy starve to death.

Eventually I hauled myself off the bed. The sight of my new fone on my wrist reminded me that I might as well get on with pulling the data from my old one. This was not going to be a trivial task, and normally I would have enjoyed the challenge of planning and executing the data transfer in the most efficient way. I am afraid I was the sort of chap who quietly gloated at the mess other people got into running their fones. After all, I had few enough chances of indulging in any sense of superiority.

I sat at the screen (of course, my Father insisted that we had the money to have a screen in every room in the house), plugged my old fone in, and set up the duplicate link before adding my new one. Then I started wading through my folders, deciding what to bin and what to transfer. I had been looking forward to this — it was, after all, going to be the start of my new life — but now it was just another chore.

It is amazing when you think of it. We all keep our lives on our fones. Music, pictures, vids — all the personal stuff. Then the money, and all the tedious official stuff like permits and school records. I could see the new structure for things I would need now I was sixteen, like insurance, service records, work permits, licences — God, there was no end to this. Lastly, I started on my own data; mostly school homework — oh, hell, there was that History essay I should have got in yesterday — and the odd abortive project. I almost binned those, but then kept them out of sentimental value. Hey, when I was rich and famous, maybe it would be fun to look back on my first pathetic efforts?

My Father had done one real favour for me. He had introduced me to a colleague who was the Central Data liaison for Cricklewood Town Council. This bloke, only twenty and perhaps impressed by my interest and chat, then did a real naughty, and gave me access to a scratch pad volume on the Central Server. Scratch pad server space made the sort of data swapping I was doing so easy. And I knew enough to appreciate the gift — Central Server space was the real McCoy, and protected like New Threadneedle Street. All the real stuff, all web sites, all central and local government records, every company's affairs and accounts — everything permanent or important — was kept on the one vast computer deep under Windsor castle in the H.M.D.C. Data Centre.

Everyone's personal stuff was on their fone, which lived on their wrist all the time (or round their neck, or on their waist, depending on the model). But everything else was at Windsor; there was nowhere else to put it. I had read about the crazy system the Pinkos used to operate, pre-Crash, with hundreds, or was it thousands of separate computers, somehow linked in myriad different ways. Someone told me there was one or more in every house or office in the land, but I did not believe that. How could they have kept it under control?

And then web sites. Apparently anyone could just put up a web site, and put anything on it they liked. They all somehow competed with each other, but how you could tell which ones were good, or even which ones were real, God only knew. We all complain about how strict His Majesty's Data Controllers are, and the paperwork in getting a site published is a disgrace, but everyone recognises the need to have proper control and censorship.

I sighed. May as well finish that History homework. I had told Mr. Millar I would give it in today, quietly forgetting to say that, as it was my birthday, I would not be there. I was really going to get in the neck if the damned thing was not ready for tomorrow.

"Enumerate and discuss the reasons for the collapse of Western Democratic-Liberal Society."

Christ, with a snappy title like that, this piece should have written itself. Not. I scanned my earlier half-finished effort with gloom. This is what my life had come to, that on my sixteenth birthday I should be shut in my room regurgitating rubbish on the Pinkos.

The monotonous clichéd phrases swam in front of me ... deregulated technological explosion ... resource depletion ... socio-economic implosion

If you want to know the truth, I think we have an inferiority complex about the Pinkos, and as far as I am concerned it is completely unjustified. Yes, they had say, space travel, while we seldom venture across the Atlantic, but what was it for? Fine, their enormous aeroplanes would carry hundreds of people while our RAF Cessna can only just carry the Royal family, but where were all those people going to, just so they could come back again a fortnight later? We still look at those derelict overhead motorways in awe, but they only needed them because they let everyone have their own car, which is as silly a thing as I have ever heard of. And, yes, those vast cities of millions of people sound impressive when you compare them with Birmingham at 700,000. Even the Home Counties Ring at just over two million all in, is far smaller than the old London before the bomb and the fire. But from what I read, everyone in those cities spent all their time trying to move out, so they can hardly have been that great.

Take fones, a subject dear to my heart. All right, it was a good trick making them work without wires. But we manage pretty well with our network of accessible dumb screens in every public location, and most people can afford a screen in their own home even if they are not as obsessive about it as my Father. And when you look at what they used them for, it was all toys, games, ring tones and other rubbish. Imagine setting up that amazing cell based wireless radio phone system, and then using it to stream grotty little videos to each other!

Then take oil. It is expensive enough now as the raw material for making plastics, and they used to burn it, just to keep warm, or for getting around! Or water. No wonder the world ran out of drinking water — they used to flush toilets with it. Or choosing governments. They used to have popularity contests to see who would be the next king! You don't have to write reams of stuff trying to analyse why it all went down the pan. They were all nuts — what more reason do you want!

I had just about scratched together enough bullshit to keep old Millar happy, when my concentration was broken by a tentative knock on the door panelling. It was not a hand I recognised. Bewildered, I opened it to find the collargirl standing there, bedraggled, and suitcase in hand. It glanced up tentatively then cast its eyes down at once.

For the first time, I actually looked at it. It was half a head shorter than me, which meant tall for a girl, with eyes still downcast and shoulders hunched. The face was fine-featured, with slightly olive skin. You would perhaps have said attractive rather than pretty although it was hard to tell at the moment. The hair: straight, longish, rich brown and once shining, was matted and wet on one side. It had a slim figure but there was a bit of chest shaping the front of the cheap jacket.

"This ... this Collarmaid has to shower," I just heard it say.

"Well there is one down the hall, over there," I snapped. But it did not move.

"The Mistress said this one has to use the shower in this room. This one's Master's room," it muttered, cowering, eyes still fixed to my shoes.

At any other time I would have been throwing things at that, but now I was emotionally exhausted. I sighed, nodded and waved it in. The smell followed it. The nasty jacket and skirt it was wearing were creased and damp across the front as well, and I could see pink stains running down its calves. For a moment I thought it was blood but then I realised it was just the dye from the shabby cloth, soaking into the stockings.

I waved it towards the shower alcove at the other side of my room and watched as it looked around for somewhere to put the suitcase. "Go on." I barked. "Just do what ever you have to, then get out. You can use whatever is there." It dropped the case, and then hesitated, looking over its shoulder back at me.

Was it expecting me to watch? I would not give it the satisfaction. Stupid collar. Even if the chance of getting a glimpse of a girl disrobing was a wet dream for a boy like me. As I stared at the other wall, scowling, the thought of what I might be missing nagged me. Hell, with no sisters, and not even walking out yet let alone a girl friend, the chance of me seeing any skin on an actual girl was normally nil. But I refused to look on principle. Except ... except in the dressing table mirror.

When it saw me face away, it turned its back to me, and hesitantly started to shrug off its clothes. I wondered if it was shy. Are collargirls modest like real people, I wondered? They all dress like sluts, but then how much choice do they get? I was studying it intently now.

What can I say about my first glimpse of an actual, unclothed woman? As limbs and skin and curves of torso were revealed, I was riveted. I had never seen this before. Well, being a school geek, it was hardly surprising that I had never seen the naughty bits. But it was not just that. What seized me was the whole young female human with the body that flexed and twisted, showing surprising grace as the layers of clothing and the shapes of unfamiliar undergarments were removed one by one and discarded. I could not take my eyes off the beautiful animal that hurriedly stepped into the shower while my mouth hung open.

I lay back on the bed, my mind whirling, my eyes tight shut. Pictures fluttered in front of me; the small tight curve of the underside of its buttock, or the way its arm squished that swelling breast when it reached over its shoulder. Had I actually seen the shadow between its legs? The images swirled, but I could not hold on to them. Then, alongside the hard-on, rose the suspicion, no, the realisation. Of course! This was not a rabbit, not something for me to mistakenly get fond of. This was a honey trap.

Oh, yes, subtle enough — they had chosen so carefully, not some heavily modded sex model, with giraffe legs and balloon boobs. This one was completely standard, pretty but all natural, so that when I gave in and shafted it, I might get a taste for real girls. The sort of girl I would be meeting at the cattle market on Saturday night. If my Mother had her way, the type of girl I would be walking out with on Sunday, shafting on Monday, and marrying a month later. Shit they were devious!

I shook my head, torn between resentment and admiration for their guile. Oddly, as I turned it over and over in my mind, it was not anger that filled me, but determination. I was sixteen now. I was supposed to be a man. So from now on, there was going to be no more tantrums and no more pleading. Don't get mad, I thought to myself, get even.

But how? Well, wait. I owned that thing. I could not remember what I had signed, but sure as hell no one else had sworn anything. So if it was mine, then it was mine to sell, or even to return! Quickly, I turned to the screen and plugged my fone in again.

"Berkhampstead" I remembered, and only a minute's search popped up the goods. (The new throat mike was very smooth.) It was a competent sales site, in a rather old fashioned style, but easy to follow. There was a live brochure with a full schedule of the girls. I browsed around to get the feel of the place. It was odd, and slightly arousing, to look at the merchandise. Each collargirl had its own page, with stats, abilities and two short vids. One picture was formal, standing as if at attention while the camera swung around it. They were in the uniform of matching red jacket and short skirt that mine had arrived in. Funnily enough the cheap cloth looked quite smart in a low res clip. The other was supposedly informal, but R16, images that, before this morning, would not have opened for me.

They were each sitting or lying on a bed, in underwear — skimpy lacy stuff, that complied with the letter of the censorship rules but made the subtext quite clear. Sex. Shaftability. This is what we were looking for. Buy it for its accomplishments, the place said, but why not have one that you can enjoy at the same time? After all, only the stinking rich keep collargirls just for sex, but everyone knows what you can do with them in their spare time.

The captions were laughable. "Team player, keen on water sports" read one. What, did they think someone would be looking for a collargirl to play water polo? How about "Strong as an ox, good under discipline". Well, I would hope so — that was the whole point with collars. Or then "Beautiful shape, very malleable, plays either way", made it sound like a stick of plasticene.

The page for my collar was still up, but with a "Sold" sticker. It probably helped give the impression of turnover to leave it up for a day or two. I repeated the short loops of film. They were each only ten or twenty seconds long. In the formal one, it looked quietly proud of itself, and was trying to look good. In the other sequence though, the embarrassment shone through the awkward "inviting" pose. It was clearly wishing it was anywhere but there, and dropped its eyes away from the camera before the end of the clip. In contrast, most of the other collargirls seemed to make a fair job of looking alluring; no doubt their passage out of there depended on it.

Then I whistled. The price tag was seventeen grand! I had to admit, it was one of the better-looking models, but still, that is a year's salary for most stiffs. I checked the spec list. Full housekeeping (I would not have expected less) but also Grade 3 secretarial, and the accomplishments list included piano, Cordon Bleau cooking, oriental massage and dancing! It was not just pretty but as smart as a whip.

I knew lots of owners hired their collars out. Where do you think most of the collarsecs in offices go at night, to say nothing of collarserves in shops and restaurants? With that sort of earning potential, it was a fair investment even at that price tag. Father had really pushed the boat out.

So, what to do about it. I dived for the small print and a few queries got me there. Here we are, I thought. Returns policy. Ten percent handling charge, but a no quibble refund for return in "as new" condition within seven days. I was there!

Ten percent — that was £15,300 left for me the day after I got it back. I threw myself back on the bed to wallow in satisfaction. I stared at the ceiling again, and tried to spot the loopholes. None that I could see. Tomahawk here I come!

The shower stopped. I sat up to look over, and caught the collar stepping out. It hunched and froze under my stare, arms over its breasts and pubes. That thing was mine to abuse any way I wanted, and it was shy! Well, let it writhe, I thought fiercely, and stared openly, getting my fill of the view. Trying (and failing) to hide the important bits, it looked around for something, and ended up getting a tiny hand towel out of its suitcase. It looked up fearfully for a second, and then started to wipe itself down.

I could not take my eyes off the dark triangle of pubic hair. It leapt out like a beacon; a signpost pointing to the secrets between its legs. Well, why the hell not. Heart beating, I got up to inspect my new possession. As I stepped towards it, it froze again, bent over while trying to dry its back with that handkerchief. I could see it was shivering. Was that cold, or was ... no, it was terrified!

I opened my mouth, moving closer, but couldn't think of anything to say. Hell, why was I feeling nervous? "Look, I'm not going to use that thing again. It was just..." It shut its eyes, and tensed, as if expecting a blow. This was ridiculous; we were like two startled woodland animals facing each other. Shit, if only I could start again.

I sighed, and bent down to fetch one of my big fluffy towels out of the bottom drawer of the dresser. It flinched as I reached around to wrap the thing about it, but opened its eyes when it realised what was going on. Wide. Wow, really big hazel eyes, with long lashes. Somehow my arms were around it as I pulled the towel tight and I was not too sure where to go next. It made no attempt to hold the towel, and if I let go the thing would drop. After a second, though, it leaned in towards me and then its damp hair was against my shoulder. I could feel its heart beating through its back.

Slowly, I started to dry it off. It just stood there passively, letting me run the fluffy cotton where I wanted. The outside of its arms, its shoulders and the accessible bits were easy. Then, holding my breath, I moved inwards, watching fascinated as the soft weight of its breasts moved under the towel in my hands. The hard-on was quick and caught me by surprise. God, if I wasn't careful I was going to end up doing exactly what my Mother was hoping. I had better stop now, so I could return this thing untouched. Putting the towel in its fingers, I turned my back and walked over to the window, breathing heavily. "Just finish up" I croaked, looking away from it.

But when I glimpsed back after what seemed like more than enough time, it had still not finished dressing. It was standing over its suitcase in only some worn, greying knickers, looking uncertainly at the contents. I marched over and quickly established that all it had in there were two more sets of ancient underwear, including a faded pink brassiere with broken straps, some cotton stockings with holes, two night-dresses and a wash bag. Apparently the soggy suit and under things laying in a heap in the bath was all it was given to go out in the world with, and I was expected to buy it a new set of uniforms. A task for my Mother, I decided, but then paused. What was the point? I was returning it anyway.

I reached out to touch the stinking pile in the bath then thought better of it. Maybe there was something in here, I thought, and cast around in my wardrobe for a minute. "Here, put this on" I told it and threw it an old white shirt that was much too small for me. A skirt would be tricky, unless I could bring myself to ask my mother. But wait, what about ... it took me a moment to find that old kilt that was just one more of the victims of my Mother's endless war to get me dressed to her liking.

The combination was interesting, if hardly fashionable. In fact it verged on the indecent, even for a collar. The shirt made a pretty tight blouse for even those breasts and although the kilt reached well below the crotch, it was a bit short around the hips, with a shortage of overlap that meant it flashed a fair amount of hip whenever the collar moved. Well, it would do for around the house, and I was hardly bothered about propriety here.

It was time I was off. I was due to meet Rob and Liz in the Dead Duck, for a celebration lunch, and I did not want to keep them waiting. I slipped into my favourite black coat, hoping that I would get it past my Mother today of all days, adjusted my cravat, and headed down stairs. The collar followed.

Maybe I should not have pushed with the coat. It was my version of a punk classic, with only safety pins and zips for decoration, and it caused her to stare at me in suspicion.

"And where are you going, dressed like that?"

I prevaricated, trying not to admit my destination without actually lying.

"James, I hope you are not thinking of going to meet those proles again," she cautioned in a voice of ice. Seeing my expression, she carried on. "Now you have reached your majority, it is time to put childish associations behind you. Even your Father is prepared to be seen with proles in the course of business, but never for any social purpose. If Lady Astor were to see you in the company of common proles, I would never live it down. Now that you have some responsibility and a position to look forward to, you must learn to act accordingly."

"Mother, didn't you always say that anyone can treat his superiors with due regard, but it is the mark of a true gentleman to treat his inferiors with respect. Surely I must meet them and explain the situation to them?" I froze, hoping desperately that she would swallow the bullshit.

It seemed to work, but the price for getting out the door was — taking the collar with me. Yes, idiotic, but now I was late, and, well, it would just have to tag along. After all, I had the zapper in my pocket so what could go wrong?

Everyone I knew that my Mother would have considered a social equal, either bored me stiff, or made me feel like an insect all the time. Was it my fault that polite society required people to act like complete idiots, whereas proles seemed to be free to do as they liked? Was it my fault that the only people who were interesting or friendly were the ones who worked with their hands for a living, surviving day to day on their labour, not their investments? I was going to meet Liz and Rob, but sure as hell it was not to explain that I could no longer see them.

Sitting on the bus was uncomfortable. I kept imaging everyone was looking at me, wondering what that boy could be doing with a collar dressed like that. Even worse was having to try and keep my own eyes off it. It was covering the slash in the "skirt" with its hands on its thigh, but from my angle, I could see right through the gap in the buttons at the front of the shirt, where the pale skin of the inside curve of its left breast glowed.

My good humour returned at the sight of Rob and Liz, both sitting there in the corner when I arrived. The place was almost empty — it was really designed to appeal to the Goth crowd who were all late-nighters. It was a puzzle why they opened at lunchtime anyway.

"Yay, the Birthday Boy!" cried Rob, only half in irony, and I grinned back.

"Wotcher, J." called Liz, holding up a hand for me to five. She shifted her chair over to make room for me, and suddenly all my problems seemed small and manageable again. What the hell. This was my day, and it was going to be alright.

"Seems like only yesterday since I was fifteen" I pronounced and waved at them in a lordly way.

"Seems like only yesterday since ya found out 'ow to scratch yer bum" retorted Liz, grinning.

"So, 'ow's it feel to be a grown up gent, then? We should be bowin' and scrapin'!" teased Rob, grinning evilly. The trouble with these two was that they never took me seriously.

"Never you mind. This isn't going to change me at all, you know."

"Not 'arf. 'Course, someone FORCED you to turn up wiv a little collarslut in tow, didn't they?"

"As it happens, they did!" I protested. While I explained about my mother, I had to ignore their chuckles at my expense.

"So, Got yer lolly sorted out? Now the world's at yer feet, ya betta start thinkin' wot sort o' billet yer after — now yer can buy yerself into somethin' nice and cushy!"

There was an edge to Rob's mocking. I wondered how the job search was going for him. He would be sixteen next month, and he would need to have sorted out something to do by then. Last I heard there was a baker who might take him on, but I hesitated to ask.

It was different for me of course — the protracted business of negotiating a gentleman's 'position' with full tenure, permanent salary, pension rights and God knows what fringe benefits, was very different from Rob's problem. He had to find someone to pay him money the day after his birthday, where I had two years to negotiate mine. On the other hand, he did have the freedom of not being tied down, of being able to walk out if he didn't like it.

In theory, there was nothing stopping a prole going for a gent's appointment. Well, nothing legally anyway. All he would have to do would be to somehow amass the premium required upfront, get the training and experience necessary, and then overcome the all too explicit prejudice against employing 'proles' for any job with serious responsibility. What was amazing was not the system itself, but that once in a blue moon, one of them actually made it. Sometimes I wondered if it was just often enough to make the hope plausible, so it could be dangled in front of the down-trodden masses.

"I could hold down a wage job, you know. I bet I would do all right in the open market." I ignored their mocking expressions and spouted on. "Well, in a proper planned economy, run by the dictatorship of the proletariat, there wouldn't be this artificial distinction between labour and management. If this country was run decently, everyone would have the opportunity to find full expression in their exertions!"

Rob and Liz were openly laughing at me as they pelted me with bits of bread roll. "Yeah, yeah, and anyone who understood wot yer was on about would 'ave a job fer life explainin' it to the rest of us!"

They always pretended I did not know what I was talking about just because they did not have the advantage of my superior education. If I did not know they were joking, I might have felt put down. As it was, no matter how carefully I explained my theories on the faults of the current economic system, at best they seemed to be humouring me, and at worst — well, I would be brushing bits of bread out of my hair.

"Hey Rob, ignore this bozer 'till 'e settles down. You catch the game on Saturday?"

Rob and Liz always got wound up when they were talking about the Harlequins. I just could not get excited about a rugby team, and I tuned out as they got into the details of Saturday's game, which I had not even seen. Oddly, my collar was hanging on every word, as if knew what they were talking about — or as if it had never heard such a conversation before.

Collars, now. I had never really thought about owning collars before. I looked at the two behind the counter, bored and chewing gum. What did the owner of this place see in them? He must be around somewhere; after all it was illegal to leave collars unattended in a public place. Presumably he was out back in the kitchen, or maybe he had a prole manager.

One of them could have looked half decent, but it was scowling at the end of its hair as it looked for split ends, while kicking the counter in an idle sort of way. The face had seemed pretty enough when it had smiled to take my order but that had not lasted for long. There was not much in the way of breasts — I wondered of its owner ever took it to bed. No, I bet a quick shafting bent over the counter after the customers had left would be more like it. My pulse quickened as I stared at bumps in its front and toyed with the image of that uniform front torn open, its small mouth open in surprise as a faceless man grabbed at its pert little tits from behind.

Mind you, if it came to that, even my collar was better endowed. I gazed at it, to take in the way its breast flesh filled the front of that silly white shirt. Each nipple was clearly visible, squashed against the tight cloth, and it was easy to see what it would look without the covering. I was beginning to harden as I wondered what it would say if I instructed it to...

" ... don'cha TAKE A CLOSER LOOK?!" screamed someone, close by — Liz! Then she was standing behind my collar, and before I could collect myself, she grasped its shirt's edges from behind, and with a single violent jerk, tore the garment open and down around its elbows. Mesmerised, I stared at the bared nipples bouncing as the poor collar gasped, then too late, looked up to see the back of Liz as she stormed out the door.

My chair fell over as I jumped up. What the hell was going on? "I'd ... I'd better go after her!" I apologised to Rob, who was shaking his head in bewilderment. "Can you look after this thing here for a minute?" He nodded and I ran for the door.

Left or Right? There, her black coat was swirling in the distance as she ran around the corner. I set off after her, dodging random shoppers and a baby carriage before skating around the same corner. Damn, she was not slowing down — the gap was bigger now if anything. I started to run in earnest, confident that at full pelt I would catch her. Fortunately her black shape was easy to spot against the multicoloured mixture of the shopping crowd.

The next corner lead away from the high street with all its shops and clutter. Now we were into terraced housing... "BZZZ BZZZ BZZZ " was coming from somewhere. What the hell? It couldn't be my new fone, I thought, struggling to keep on my feet round another corner. I was really out of breath now, and that stupid noise was still coming from my pocket. I faltered to a halt, panting, and patted my left side. The collar's controller! When I hauled the thing out, it was flashing "Collar Escaping!" in red neon lettering on the tiny display.

Don't be silly, I thought. It's back at the cafe with ... Then it hit me. The collar might be stationary, but I wasn't. I was pretty sure the limit was set at 500 yards, and I must be much further than that from it by now. I stood torn with indecision for a second, but the complete disappearance of Liz settled it. I turned and started on my way back.

I burst back into the cafe to find the collar stretched out in the chair, its head lolling over the back — and Rob hurriedly removing his hands from exploring its exposed chest. He had the decency to look embarrassed as I rushed over.

"It just jerked and collapsed!" he explained. "It's still alive, I were checkin'. Heartbeat's fine an' everythin'..." he trailed off lamely.

Although I should be mad, I had to sympathise with him. It was the nipples, somehow so pink and fresh. I had never seen a girl's breasts from up close before. I gulped, tore my eyes away, and grabbed the edges of its shirt to cover them up. At the same time I pulled it up to a more upright position in the chair and looked around.

"Alright, nothing to see here." I glared at the curious collarserves. "Just get on with your business." Their business seemed to be lounging behind the bar, but they went back and got on with it.

I collapsed in a chair and gazed forlornly at Rob. "What got into Liz? What do you think all that was about?"

He looked uncomfortable. "Hey, James, ya know 'ow she thinks of yer. And then, ya bring that thing in..."

"Wait a sec." I interrupted, "I don't know how she thinks about me. What are you talking about?"

Rob squirmed even more, then sighed and shrugged. "Ya blind or somink? She's completely stuck on yer."

I gaped.

"As far as she's concerned, yer the only male in town." he carried on, looking down, as if I had not understood. "It's bin gettin' worse recently, I can tell. The way she stares at ya, when yer not lookin', like she's sizin' yer up. The way she's bin askin' questions about ya..."

"And you said nothing!" I exclaimed, aghast.

"Well, where was I goin' to start? Anyway, I thought ya were goin' to figure it out yerself. I mean, 'ow could yer 'ave missed it?"

"But ... Liz!" It would have really nice, or at least flattering, to have anyone else fancy me, but not Liz! That was what I liked about her, that she was so tough, so uncompromising. She was never going to fall for anyone, least of all me.

"What the hell am I going to do about it?"

"Do? That depen's on how ya feel about it. I mean... " Rob looked down at the table. "Look, James, I've never said this before, but you know, about you and us ... well"

"What, you're proles and I'm a stiff! I thought we knew each other better than that!" I interrupted, hotly.

"Go on, loose yer rag again, just like usual!" he challenged me, glaring. We glowered at each other for a second, before he relaxed. "Its just — it is a bit weird, 'angin' out wiv a gent, even though ya try so hard not to be a stiff. Yer much more of a gennleman than ya think — I guess it goes wiv' the genes, or how ya were brung up or somat. And it ain't that yer nasty, but ... ya blown yer top at the tiniest things." He ploughed on, not looking at me. "Then yer life, when ya compare it to us ... ya just take so much for granted, without thinking. Ya always want more, and sometimes I think ya don't rate what yer already got. Take this collar now. Yeah, I know it ain't what yer asked for, but still... 'aving a real girl, and that one is such a hottie! If I was in yer shoes I sure wouldn't be lookin' for a refund."

I shrugged, but I could not help feeling a bit embarrassed. I recognised too much truth in what he said to be able to object.

"And then Liz. She, she's more than a bit special, ain't she, and I..." He paused to look at me and then took a big breath. "I'd give anythin' to have Liz look at me the way she looks at you. I know it 'd be difficult, but does all this stuff ya spout about equality acherly mean anythin'? Yeah, you can't take 'er out like a lady frien', but there's so many other things ya could do. And now yer goin' t' throw it away because she's a prole!"

I stared back at him in shock for a second. Of course, it was bound to come up at some stage, but I had always thought he was cool about us, that I was the one making the sacrifice. "It's not like that!" I cried. "Look Rob, you have to believe me. You and Liz — you're mates, I couldn't do without either of you. If I have ever taken you for granted, it's because I'm a berk, not because I'm a stiff. I'm certainly not hesitating because she is a prole. But ... It's just that I never thought of her that way! I mean, would you?"

And then it hit me. I stared at Rob and realised — he would. Rob would give anything to have her look at him like that, and he did think of her that way. He had fallen for her as much as she had for me.

I groaned. "It's bloody Midsummer Night's Dream. 'True lovers have been ever cross'd' — all over again. Come back Will, all is forgiven."

"Wocher on about?"

"Oh, just — one of those Shakespeare plays." I noticed Rob's blank face. "Never mind. Hell, I don't know what to make of all this. I don't know even how I feel about it, never mind what I am going to do about it."

Rob looked at me, in sympathy instead of anger. "Well look, why doncha spend some time wiv 'er; just the two of yer, instead of us bein' the Three Musketeers."

"Hmm, maybe. Did I ever tell you that with D'Artagnan there were actually four of them?"

"Yeah, all the time, poser."

"Gee, thanks skinhead."

"Well someone's got t' keep yer feet on the groun'!"

"I suppose we had better wait until this thing recovers," I sighed. "Fancy another drink?"

I had forgotten how my Mother was going to react on seeing it in that state. "We are going to afternoon tea at the Jones', and I will not be seen with this thing looking like that!" she exclaimed in icy tones, pointing at my collar. I had to admit it was not presented to its best. Its legs were bare of stockings, the kilt was flapping open where it had torn at the fastening, and the front of the blouse was barely held together with safety pins from my collection. It was nice to see them put to real use for once, but even I could see her point. And I knew, all too well, what the point of the tea party was.

My parents were going to show off their son, newly of age, and his coming-out present. Mrs Jones, my Mother's oldest friend and dearest rival, was going to show off her daughter Penelope and no doubt Penelope's coming-out present. After this contest and the unspoken scoring of points (which would go straight over my head) Mother and Mrs Jones would sit down to gloat over their achievements, and to complete in tiniest detail the plans for our joint Coming-out Ball to be held this coming Saturday, while abandoning me to the un-tender mercy of Penelope.

"Give it to me." she snapped in her I'll-do-it-myself voice, and held out her hand for the zapper. "I will see what I can find at the back of my wardrobe. Tomorrow, you are going to take it shopping to buy it new clothes, and I will inspect your choice afterwards." I groaned inwardly — no punishment could have been worse, and I suspected she knew just that.

Chapter 2 »