The original story features male immobilization, although it has to be said that he doesn’t get much enjoyment out of it. Even so, it did provide the inspiration for my own Flotsam series, and now I’ve attempted to revise the original text with a female protagonist and an erotic twist.
Brinna was riding hard when she reached the sanctuary at twilight. She had foundered two mounts under her since yesterday, and for all her haste the Hrothy, howling like a pack of dervishes, were close behind her. She rose in the stirrups and looked back anxiously.
Yes, in forty seconds or so Megath and her relatives would be upon her. When they caught her they would, she knew, tie her up and let Megath have her way with her before joining in themselves. She shuddered. The opening of the shrine was dark and uninviting, but she was almost certain that the Hrothy would respect its sacred character; and the sanctuary looked, to her inexperience, like any other of the shrines that dotted the surface of the second planet. It was a piece of extreme luck that she had found it. She jumped from the back of her rox and plunged into it.
The Hrothy got up to the winded rox about fifty seconds later. It was plain enough where Brinna was. They looked at each other in silence. Megath’s uncle, who had been the hottest in pursuit of any of the Hrothy, gave a short laugh. Men and women began to dismount without speaking.
The Hrothy considered that Brinna, in rejecting Megath’s advances, had committed an unforgivable sin. But they thought, from stories they had heard and from experience, that if Brinna stayed inside the square stone shrine for the next twelve hours, their grudge against her would be satisfied. Megath would be avenged. Silently the tribesmen seated themselves in a semicircle outside the entrance of the shrine.
Brinna, peering from within the opening, was both puzzled and relieved. She had been afraid they would light some of the damp blue river grass and try to smoke her out All that fuss over escaping a woman whose skin was definitely, if faintly, purple! But apparently they were counting on starvation. She patted the bottles of food-tablets in her pockets and nodded. She had a flask, too. They’d have a long wait, a good long wait.
Their continued silence - the Hrothy were usually noisily emotional - bothered her. She peeked at them doubtfully once more. But apparently they were going to respect the shrine’s sanctity; there was nothing to worry about.
She stumbled back a few paces into the shrine’s interior. It was quite dark. The floor seemed to be made of slick mud. (Actually, it was an exceedingly durable moisture-resistant plastic, but Brinna couldn’t know that.) She hesitated, and then lay down on it. She’d had an exhausting day.
She meant to stay awake, on guard, but her fatigue was overpowering. Inside ten minutes she was fast asleep.
As soon as her smoother breathing gave the signal, the scanning rays went to work on her. her pulse was taken, her respiration timed, her oxygen consumption checked.
A tiny pad slipped into her damp armpit and came out with perspiration to be analyzed. Another tiny pad slipped momentarily into her mouth. And when she was quite, quite thoroughly asleep, a minute needle drew a drop of blood from her earlobe. A highly refined technique of zone electrophoresis was exercised on the sample.
The Hrothy, outside in the cloudy night, waited in wolfish silence. It was not the sacred character of the shrine they were respecting, it was its competence as a factory.
Brinna woke at last. She had an impression that much time had passed, and while this was not true chronologically, it was quite accurate physiologically: a lot had happened to her while she was asleep.
The idea of much elapsed time alarmed her. What had the Hrothy been doing while she was unconscious? Still dazed with sleep, she hurried to the opening of the shrine and peered out.
The tribesmen were seated as she had last seen them, squatting in a semicircle in the light drizzle outside the shrine, with their brightly colored cloaks wrapped tightly around them. They must be intending to wait until hunger drove her out. Brinna gave a derisive snort and turned back to the interior of the sanctuary. As she pivoted about she struck her head painfully and unexpectedly on the stone lintel of the shrine opening.
For a moment physical distress obscured the meaning of what had happened. She stood blinking tears of pain from her eyes and cursing softly to herself. Then the significance of the incident came to her suddenly she had bumped her head on the door lintel. But last night the lintel had been two or three feet above the top of her head.
She looked up. Her thick red hair was brushing against the ceiling. What the hell - what had happened to her? Had the building somehow shrunk? Or had she grown, was she somehow bigger than she had been last night?
For a moment she wondered whether she had caught some fever. Venus abounded in them, and hallucinatory ideas about bodily size characterized one or two of them. And she was thirsty, she felt oddly hot.
She looked down at her hands. her cuffs were only an inch or two below her elbows. Unless she was having a remarkably consistent hallucination.... It couldn’t be a fever; she didn’t feel feverish at all, only thirsty and hot. Anyhow, she’d had shots for all the endemic Venusian diseases before she’d left Dindymene. She’d gotten bigger during the night, that was all.
Oddly, the idea did not alarm her. She was rather pleased with it. For a moment she thought of stepping boldly out of the shrine and spreading some havoc among the squatting Hrothy. She’d teach them to annoy a woman who was eight - no, more nearly nine feet tall. But there were twenty of them, and they had lots of rope. She’d better not.
Besides, she was feeling somnolent and lethargic and strangely horny, not at all combative. She couldn’t imagine what had happened to her, but it didn’t seem to matter. Her increased size made her clothes painfully tight, though. With a little difficulty she managed to strip naked, laying her clothes on the floor beside her. Then she decided to sit down on the floor and have a drink of water from her flask.
The silvery container was dwarfed in her big new hands; she tipped the flask up to get the last drops, and then tossed it from her petulantly. It was water, all right, but she didn’t want water. What she wanted was something more dense.
She crossed her legs under her and leaned back against the slick wall. She closed her eyes; she thought it would help her to think better. In a little while she was asleep.
This time it was late afternoon when she awoke. It was raining hard. Without moving from her sitting position, she peered out of the sanctuary, noting absently as she did so that she still felt horny, and her back seemed somewhat stiff.
The Hrothy were gone. There wasn’t a sign of them in the damp landscape, not even a used beetla stick or a clot of rox dung. It was probably a trap; they must be lurking in the neighborhood. Or they might have gone back to the village for reinforcements. Brinna grinned. She didn’t think she’d be fooled easily. She decided to get up.
She tried to move: nothing happened, except that she felt even hornier. Well, she had been in a cramped position for a long time. Her legs must have gone to sleep.
Once more she gave her body the order. Once more nothing happened. Her arousal just got really intense. Brinna licked her lips nervously. Was she paralyzed? What was the matter with her? She might have become really frightened, but her throbbing clit was proving too much of a distraction. It was at this point that a plunp came in.
Now, the plunp are the oddest of the native peoples of Venus. Some workers who have studied them insist that their material backwardness hides a singularly rich and varied spiritual life. Other ethnologists deny this passionately and say that their pointless, rambling creation legends and inept totem poles show that their spiritual life is just about what you’d expect. Their sex life, on the other hand, is more rich and varied than anyone can imagine.
Be that as it may, the plunp are not considered prepossessing. They have exceedingly slick grayish skins, long shallow jaws with ferocious teeth, and fierce yellow eyes. They wear no clothing, not even a pubic leaf. They smell a little like frogs. Brinna thought they were endearingly grotesque.
This one came into the sanctuary and stopped in front of Brinna. Even though the plunp clearly had no nudity taboos, part of Brinna felt embarrassed at being naked in front of it and unable to cover herself. Another part of her just got even hornier.
The plunp made a sketchy gesture with one hand; it might have been meant as a respectful salutation or, more informally, been simply her way of saying “Hi!” She looked at Brinna calculatingly and then nodded. She opened the hollowed-out areda nut that depended from a length of vine around her neck.
Brinna watched. There wasn’t much else she could do, and the plunp’s coming seemed somehow significant. She watched the creature with fascination and helpless arousal, tinged with a little revulsion (the plunp are grotesque), while it took a hunk of yellowish ointment out of the nut and smeared the stuff over itself. Despite the creature’s ugliness, the sight triggered erotic sensations that almost caused Brinna to come on the spot, but somehow she managed to hold back. Then the plunp began to rotate slowly in front of her, its twiggy, slick-skinned arms outstretched expectantly.
Almost as soon as the yellow goo touched the plunp’s glabrous skin, Brinna felt an extraordinary excitement in herself. It had greater intensity than a normal sexual urge, and was emphatically sensuous in its carnal, hot imperative. It was as if all the myriad cells of her body were both thirsty and horny, thirsty and horny as individuals, for the yellow ointment and the moisture in the plunp’s slick skin under it The water in Brinna’s flask hadn’t been dense enough to satisfy her thirst; this moisture would, and much more.
She felt a kind of aura, a projection of herself, reach out. It was not a matter of conscious will; even as she made the immaterial contact with the plunp, she found she couldn’t hold back any longer. She began to orgasm uncontrollably. She was physically and sexually thirsty, and it seemed to her that in dehydrating the plunp and coming she was performing an intimate service, submitting to an erotic familiarity, with a non-human creature. A sexual contact, no matter how impalpable, with a plunp...! It was unthinkable. Yet it was happening, and there was nothing she could do to stop it. She climaxed long and hard... so long... so hard...
It the most astonishing sexual experience she had ever had (so far), better than anything she could have imagined; the intensity was almost agonizing, and it went on and on and on.
(The parallelism between this compulsion and that which Megath had attempted to inflict on her did not escape her. She might have pondered the irony of it, if she had not been so disracted by her ecstasy.)
The plunp continued to revolve in front of her, turning first one side and then the other toward the intoxicating dryness it felt emanating from her. It came to Brinna, if one may pardon the expression, that its attitude was that of a worshiper toward a good, serviceable goddess.
Oh, it was sensuous. A sensuous service performed for a grotesque, sensuous being. It was almost too intense to bear; it felt as if Brinna, in her new body, had not been quite designed for it.
In this supposition Brinna was quite right. The shrine was not really a shrine; in the first instance, it had been a factory. It had been originally designed by biologists of the fourth planet to help their horny colonists on the second planet adjust to the (for them) overwhelmingly damp environment of Venus.
There are two possible ways of dealing with dampness. One is to be water-proof, as are a duck’s well-oiled feathers. The Martians tried this and disliked it. They sweltered miserably in the damp heat of their own impervious bodies. So they adopted the second course, which is to enjoy water, to be water-craving, as is a frog. This solution meant far greater physiological adaptation than had the first one, but the Martians were more satisfied with it.
After they were adapted, they were continually sucking in water through their pores from their damp surroundings (and as an unavoidable side effect, coming hard), then using it in their metabolism and exhaling dry air out again. There was some degree of selectivity in the process. They could choose which of several objects they wanted to draw water from, and so by trial and error determine which would give them the best orgasms.
It worked fine for the Martians, though in the dry season they were uncomfortable, and when they went home for vacations they were frigid and miserable. But Brinna hadn’t been a Martian to begin with, and the scanners had become a little deranged in the long eons that had passed since there had last been Martians on Venus. It was different with her.
To the plunp, she was a delightfully hygroscopic goddess. To herself, she was a woman afflicted with a peculiar sexual curse.
The plunp went away at last, its skin now smooth upon its slimmed-down body. It staggered a little as it went over the threshold, as if it were drunk. It had left the empty areda nut behind it. Brinna watched its now-taut buttocks weaving away through the pouring sheets of rain and came hard once again.
She couldn’t move; she couldn’t even wriggle. Her back had grown completely stiff. She was still coming repeatedly, though less intensely. She wasn’t sure how she was breathing. But she was sure of one thing: she wasn’t going to draw water from a plunp again. The pleasure was too overwhelming.
If she got thirsty again, how could she help it? She didn’t know, but ignorance had no effect on her determination As she sat immobile, watching the rain turning to chilly darkness, she felt a tiny surge of hope. What had happened to her was impossible. It just couldn’t be. So it couldn’t go on forever. Sooner or later, somebody would find her. A plant collector, a woman doing a government survey - somebody. All she had to do was to stay alive until then.
It rained pouringly all next day. Brinna sat like a naked doll, coming more slowly but almost as sensuously. She remembered having heard that in this part of Venus the rainfall could, during the rainy season, exceed thirty inches in twenty-four hours. She lost count of how many orgasms she had in just half that period.
About noon on the day after that four plunp came. Brinna had been able to satisfy a little of her tormenting thirst from the moisture in the air, and she had laid her plans. As the plunp, anointed with yellow ointment, pirouetted in front of her, she drew into herself. It was like being deaf to a barrage of thunder, like refusing to see a blinding light. She didn’t know how she was doing it. But she was. Even her orgasms seemed to abate a little.
The plunp slithered to a stop. They looked at each other wordlessly and began to wave their twiggy hands. Brinna felt a flash of triumph; she’d beaten the horny little creatures. She felt even more triumphant when, after another silent round robin, they went out.
They came back in a moment, carrying a sharp cornered wooden chest. (The plunp were not clever enough. to make such a thing themselves - they had traded for it with the more civilized Orths.) They opened it. Inside there was a drippy, clinging, gelatinous reddish paste. The plunp had had a great deal of experience with recalcitrant gods and goddesses.
The plunp whose skin was grayest wound a gob of the paste on the end of a stick. Rather cautiously it held it out toward Brinna. It waved it back and forth across her chest and under the end of her nose.
The result, for Brinna, was shattering. She felt as if her body would be torn apart by ecstasy. With wild, forced, speed she began to dehydrate the plunp with the grayest skin. It was like flying higher and faster all the time, and coming harder with every passing second. It was not entirely unpleasant; it was just unspeakably intense, and became more so with every passing second.
Oh, dear gods, Brinna thought, why me? Why me?
But it wasn’t just her. What Brinna didn’t know - and never would - was that humans and hrothy had been disappearing into the shrines for centuries, ever since the plunp had stumbled across their first god.
When asked about missing humans the plunp of course denied all knowledge, and any humans that dared to enquire more deeply soon found themselves sharing the same helpless fate. There was no shortage of unoccupied shrines, and the plunp were always on the lookout for new gods.
The plunp left at last, when it was nearly dark. They were doing little dance steps and making histrionic gestures with their stick-like arms. They waved their hands in salutation to Brinna as they went.
She watched them frozenly through an orgasmic haze. She could not even tremble. She was a flesh-and-blood statue. Her joints were irreversibly locked in position, and she couldn’t send commands to her muscles anyway. Only certain involuntary muscles (as she was only too aware) were still capable of contraction. She couldn’t lick her lips any more, or even blink of her own accord.
The moisture she had taken perforce from the plunp had given her a Rubenesque figure and inflated her tingling breasts to twice their normal size; she was inflated too with orgasmic helplessness. This time it had been ten - a hundred times too intense. After this she’d accept her condition docilely. Anything was better than having them force her as they had today.
She sat through the night in a trance of glassy euphoria, coming endlessly. Just thinking about her helplessness made her come hard, and trying not to think about her helplessness made her come even harder. At times she was no longer sure who Brinna was. She only knew that Brinna had endured something unbelievable. Someone had learned an erotic secret about Brinna. Numbly she waited for day.
That day it rained less, and only one plunp arrived. The goddess who had been Brinna thought, “I can stand it if it’s only one of them. Yesterday was just too much.”
But the day after there were five and then two and then three. It went on day after day, with more plunp as the season advanced and the rain grew heavier. Day after day. Orgasm after helpless orgasm. The Hrothy would have been more than satisfied.
Brinna couldn’t think. She couldn’t remember who she was, or how she had gotten where she was, or why she couldn’t move. She could only keep experiencing the ecstasy that her worshipers poured into her body along with their excess moisture.
In spite of herself, Brinna came to love her glassy-eyed worshipers with a passion that was at first narcissistic and then became turned outward. If she could have moved, could have done anything at all except orgasmically dehydrate the plunp, she would have fucked them blind. She would dwell with euphoric glee on the intricate details of their imaginary lovemaking. Whether it should be by hand, or tongue, or whatever kind of sex toy she could improvise from the contents of her discarded jacket, she could not decide. She wanted the one that would give them the most mutual pleasure.
Time passed Rain rained. Sometimes as many as twenty plunp stood in the shrine before her, revolving drunkenly, moaning ecstatically, ejaculating explosively, their faces contorted. Then, as the days grew longer, the rain began to abate. There was one clear day and then another and then two in a row. The dry summer was setting in.
Worshipers began to come less frequently, which meant that she came less frequently too. When they did, they did not stay long. The gradual drying out of the plunp’s slick tissues by the heat of summer did not arouse them; it made them sleepy. They were no longer interested in gods and hygroscopy and yellow goo. They were, in fact, beginning to estivate.
Brinna at first did not dare to believe in it. But when nearly a week had passed without a single plunp presenting itself for her to dehydrate, she let herself be invaded by a most passionate relief. There were no more demands. The days grew longer and brighter. Her body only experienced five or six orgasms per hour. And there were no more plunp.
Then, as the air grew progressively dryer, Brinna found that she was beginning to shrink.
She was not alarmed, she was puzzled. She still sat immobile in her corner, her legs crossed under her, but each day she was smaller, lighter, dryer, less buxom, than she had been the day before. She passed the point of normal physical size where she had been before the mechanism of the shrine had changed her, and receded from it. Still she shrank, coming slowly every two or three hours.
She was not alarmed. her puzzlement was a vague and not alarming emotion. And as time passed there were long blank spaces, stretches of faintly voluptuous blackness, in her thoughts.
It dawned on her slowly that this creeping blackness, this increasingly welcome annihilation of sexuality, meant death. That did not alarm her. After coming almost continuously for so many months, the prospect of eternal rest was comforting. But - she still had faint curiosities - but why?
Well, she supposed, even gods don’t live forever, and she had done an incredible amount of dehydration for the plunp. She had worn herself out with orgasms, and the dry season had finished her. Next year the plunp - for the first time since her bondage had begun she felt like sighing - next year the plunp would have to find another goddess.
The thought made her come... slowly and sensuously... one... last... time.
Then, to her infinite relief, her arousal faded. Her orgasms stopped. Blissful celibacy embraced her.
At last she sat in her corner shrunken no bigger than a doll. She no longer heard or saw or felt or came; her mind had also stopped. She had shriveled up to nothing; her arms and legs were as small as darning balls. There was no more Brinna. If she had had a spark of ego left to make the statement, she would have said that she was dead.
But the plunp were in no immediate danger of losing their deity. When the rainy season came Brinna would wake up again. Once more she would resume her ecstatic service for them.
Like worshiper, like god. Brinna had many years of orgasmic hygroscopic action for the plunp before her. But now it was summer. Synchronous with the cycle of her worshipers, the goddess of the plunp was estivating too.
At the same time, thousands of other paralyzed gods and goddesses were estivating in shrines all over the continent.
Brinna was right about one thing, however: gods don’t live forever... not quite. But as the years turned to decades, and then to centuries, and then to millennia, the distinction would hardly matter to them...