Twenty minutes later Chloe watched through a glass panel as Emma was led into the State Caning Room. A uniformed male policeman held her right arm and marched her towards the automatic mechanical punisher. 'Disrobe from the waist down,' he said matter-of-factly. 'Then bend over the whipping stool and grip the lower bar to hold yourself in place.'
'That's easy for you to say,' Emma sulked. Her fingers fumbled against the button of her jeans, then she reluctantly pulled down the close-fitting denim. She shrugged the garment off then hesitated, her fingers on the waistband of her silken pants. 'Couldn't I just keep my briefs on, Mr Policeman?' she asked humbly. 'The material's thin so it would just be for modesty's sake.'
'Section 2A of the Bottomley Act demands that the illegal gambler be naked of posterior,' the policeman answered, staring at her with mild impatience.
'What if I don't comply with your rules?' Emma shot back. Chloe was glad to see her friend showing such verve and spirit. She wondered if she'd be so brave when her own turn came.
'A failure to comply with the rules can lead to extra hard cane strokes,' the man replied. 'And we have three bachelor security guards who are very eager to undress a naughty young delinquent,' he added with a smile. 'Their fingers have been known to stray up vaginal and anal passages as they pull down a recalcitrant girl's pants.' He looked at her own tautly-knickered crotch, his eyes assessing. 'Shall I call them all in?'
'No - please don't do that.' Emma licked her lips then turned her body so that her stomach rather than her arse was towards the restless official, then she slowly pulled down her bikini briefs. Chloe could see apprehension in her friend's blue eyes - apprehension and a cautious excitement. Emma was obviously rising to the challenge of all this.
'Bend over the whipping stool,' the officer said again.
Emma took a deep breath then obeyed him. Chloe watched her friend's bare bottom quiver slightly as it neared its painful fate. What must poor Emma be thinking and feeling? She, Chloe, just wanted to escape.
But that would earn her further correction for resisting arrest, so all she could do was watch her friend's chastisement. Watch and learn, knowing that this striping would fall on her own small buttocks next. 'Ten strokes for the purchase of ten lottery tickets,' said the robotic overhead voice which presumably always passed sentence. 'First time offender, so State Caning Machine is to be set at level three.'
The policeman did something to a square machine at one side of Emma's bum. That same bum twitched, obviously aware that its punishment was growing nearer. It was a wonderfully smooth and defenceless bum, Chloe thought, with a rush of lust and shame. At the moment both hemispheres were a uniform creamy shade, a firm peach of perfection. A tiny part of Chloe's psyche wanted to see the flesh striped a glowing red. Emma had gotten her into this fix, she told herself with a little rush of devilment. She deserved to writhe under the swishy cane.
'Stroke one,' ordered the robotic voice. Chloe looked back to see that Emma's fingers were tightly gripping the low bar of the punishment stool, bare feet resting in the grooves of the crossbar. It was a position which elevated her extremities to their utmost, resulting in an erring and very sorry looking bare arse.
'Let the official punishment commence,' the policeman said. As Chloe stared, a long judicial cane came mechanically out of the machine. Obviously Emma couldn't see it. She sensed or heard it, though, for her body puckered up some more. The cane was attached to a metal arm which seemed inordinately flexible. That same arm pulled the rod back, back, back, then whacked it forward into Emma's waiting flesh.
The twenty-two year old's bottom jerked and both slender thighs stiffened for at least ten seconds, then Emma seemed to push her tummy more fully into the wooden stool. The muscles in her bum tightened then slowly relaxed again as they realised the first cane stroke was over. After another few seconds her shoulders also untensed.
The mechanical cane seemed to know that the transgressor was ready for cane stripe two. Either that, or someone watching the punishment was pushing the activator button. Whatever, the long rod struck again and the state's newest prisoner yelped and groaned. A second thin pink line appeared on the undercurve of Emma's pale bum, below the first stripe. They were almost parallel across the twitching creamy flesh. Chloe winced in sympathy for her friend but still watched, mesmerised. 'She's wriggling that arse so prettily,' a male voice said.
Chloe looked around in shock and surprise. It was an older policeman who had spoken. He was standing behind her and staring fixedly at the punishment scene. 'I like a backside with a bit of life in it,' he continued, watching through the glass as Emma's bum wriggled under the rod again. 'Especially one as cute as this.'
'She's my best friend,' Chloe muttered, wishing that the man wouldn't talk so crudely.
'Then you can compare red stripe marks afterwards,' the fifty year old replied with a lazy grin.
Chloe stared back at him with wide eyed apprehension. 'I've never been caned before, far less in public. Isn't there another way...?'
'Are you offering me a good time?' he asked, clear interest lighting up his eyes.
Chloe hesitated, not wanting to have full sex with the man yet longing to control the situation. 'I could please you with my hand,' she murmured, curling her ringless fingers into an inviting sheath.
'Oh dear, trying to bribe an official with sexual favours. That's perverting the course of justice,' the man said sadly. 'Which earns you another two sore strokes.'
God, no! She'd tried to wriggle out of her ordeal and only succeeded in making the situation worse. Chloe pushed her weight down more firmly on her pencil skirt clad bum as if to make access to it difficult. 'But that makes twelve. It'll be agony,' she moaned.
'You should have thought of that before you broke the law, young Miss,' the policeman said.
Knowing that he was right, Chloe moved her gaze back in time to see the mechanical rod being lined up with Emma's lower half again. The poor girl had been getting caned for some time and her bum looked like that of a luminous zebra. Now it tensed and quivered as she waited for another judicial stroke.
Chloe licked her lips at the thought of her own nether cheeks being so vulnerably displayed. The shame must be daunting. At least it's not personal, she told herself. It's an impartial machine which lays on the cane.
Emma took her last stroke and lay over the stool for a while whimpering quietly. It was clear to both watching policemen and to Chloe that she'd never break the anti-gambling law again. Gently the policeman who had been overseeing her punishment helped her up and steered her out of the gallery. The older man then turned to Chloe. 'Time for your flogging, girlie,' he said with an eager grin.
Together they walked towards the newly vacated whipping stool. 'Let's have that skirt and those panties off,' the man continued. Remembering what he'd said about procrastination, Chloe reluctantly removed her skirt then pulled down her pants.
'State Caning Machine has malfunctioned. Have paged all electronic engineers to report for duty to fix it,' the robotic voice of the intercom suddenly said.
'Paged all engineers? There's only two of them,' the official laughed, rolling his brown eyes heavenwards.
'I thought that lots of people wanted to be engineers,' Chloe gasped with growing dread.
The policeman shrugged. 'They did until the government stopped giving out university grants.' He smiled. 'Nowadays we've a very small skilled workforce. Speaking of which, what do you do yourself?'
'I record talking books,' Chloe said.
'Thought you had a nice voice,' the officer replied amicably. He slapped one palm against the other. 'Well, now it's about to squeal.'
'But I thought the caning machine was broken?' Chloe said, looking hopefully at her discarded skirt and panties.
'It is. Means I have to use manual intervention,' the policeman replied.
'You mean you'll cane me by hand?' the twenty-two year old muttered, taking a step back then covering her bare bum with her spread-apart small fingers.
'It's a difficult job but someone's got to do it,' the older man confirmed with a sardonic look.
Worse and worse. Chloe searched for ways to delay her punishment a little longer. 'Can't I come back when the machine is fixed?' she asked.
'No, correction must be carried out within six hours of arrest,' the official said. He put his hands on her naked cheeks and started to steer her towards the whipping stool. 'Best get the striping started. Your friend's eager to see the show.'