What is it with me and trees? Is it because I’m outside a lot, or because they’re nature’s bondage frames?
There’s an annual event in England called The Ten Tors, a challenge walk in which several hundred teams of six teenagers hike for 35/45/55 miles across ten tors on Dartmoor for the duration of a few days. I’d done the 35 miles when I was 16, and when I was 17, where this tie up takes place, I did the 45 miles.
I was on a team with four boys and a girl (Tash, who you might recall from one of my other stories). There was Finn, tall, and red headed, Oli, blonde, athletic and very attractive, Ross, also tall, brunette and round faced, and Matt, short and freckled. Before the challenge itself we spend several weekends practiceing; hiking and camping and preparing our own food. It was quite a liberating time, especially as a teenager, being surrounded by boys (and Tash) in the wilderness, although the event was well supervised by the army. On one of these practice weekends it was just myself, Finn, Oli and Ross, as the other two were elsewhere occupied. I’ve always been quite a commanding person, and had made myself main navigator and group co-ordinator, ensure we stayed on track and in good time.
Whilst my demanding pace led to some grumbling the guys went along with it without little challenge. At one point Oli questioned me, and said that he should perhaps take over for a bit. With what I imagined was a mischievous glint in my eye, I said to him, “only if you can out-wrestle me.”
He seemed unsure if I was joking or not, and said he wouldn’t feel happy wrestling a girl. I asked him what he was afraid of and leaped at him, trying to get him onto the ground. Oli was probably the strongest of the guys, but as I’ve said before I’m quite strong myself, and tough, and managed to trip him, (and inadvertently myself) to the ground, where we spent several moments tussling (I wondered after if it did anything for him, but didn’t check at the time and never asked), trying to get the upperhand. After a minute or so I had pinned his arms down with my legs, and sat atop of him, gently slapping him and poking his ribs until he surrendered.
I thought my rule was unchallenged at that point, and I did feel quite smug being stronger than the guys. I continued to lead for the afternoon, pushing them onwards, although there were complaints and Oli kept jokingly saying how bossy I was.
“Well you’ve your chance to have someone more lenient take over,” I joked back. It was then I perhaps made my mistake. “It would probably take all three of your to take me on.”
I saw them look at each other evilly and nod, and they dropped their packs, advancing.
“What are you doing,” I asked somewhat amused, knowing they wouldn’t hurt me, as I felt my arms being grabbed.
“Oh, it would certainly be easier for us if you were taken out of the picture,” grinned Ross, and the three of them led me to where a budding tree stood by the edge of the path (Tash had a laughing fit when I told her about this after). The trunk was smooth, and Oli and Finn pushed my back against it before taking one of my arms each (I couldn't really resist all of them, and having enjoyed the similar experience before I went along with it) pulled them behind the tree and above a branch that was jutting out at around my head height, so that my arms were raised and out of the way. Finn and Oli held them there whilst Ross fished some rope out of his back. * With my wrists held firmly in place, the rope was lashed around my arms and the branch, and when Oli and Finn backed off, taking an admiring seat on a nearby rock, I was left stuck, and completely vulnerable.
“Well you've done your coup, now what?” I said with a feigned sigh.
“I don’t know little miss bossy, why don’t you tell us?” grinned Ross.
“Well, you could just walk off, but you won’t. So you’ll have to untie me soon. Then I kick your asses.” I grinned back challengingly, despite being so restrained. My arms felt really stretched out, not uncomfortable, but it made my body feel taut and tight.
“You’re right, we wouldn't walk off,” said Finn, “but it’s fun just watching your struggling and not being in control.”
I stuck my tongue out, and Oli stood up again, his eyebrows raised.
“You know, Sam, I’ve been wondering…” he said, and suddenly, without any warning, he reached out and dug his hands into my sides, his fingers wiggling.
I couldn't help it. I laughed, hard, loud, unceasingly and explosively, squirming and rubbing helplessly against the bark as he continued to tickle me unfaltering. I hadn't anticipated this assault, had no time to prepare, and besides, I didn't even know I was ticklish. No one had tried for years, and I’d not given it any thought, but there I was, at Oli’s mercy, howling like a possessed banshee and his hands trailed over my ribs and stomach, all places where I could provide no hindrance to his tickling, and had no way of stopping him.
“Oh, tough little Sammie is ticklish?” Oli laughed mockingly, “now this is interesting.”
I could do nothing but laugh back. It was absolute torture, and became even worse when Finn and Ross, seeing a chance to get even and humiliate me, came over, with Ross attacking my ribs, which were more pronounced than usual due to the way I’d been stretched, and Finn scratching the thin fabric of my top which covered my armpits.
“This is fantastic, you know you’re never telling us what to do again?” asked Finn, clearly enjoying the shriek I made whenever his fingers delved into my hollows.
“Dance Sam,” teased Ross, continuing to torture my ribcage.
At that point Oli dug right into my abs, and I was reduced to silent laughter. “Yeah, next time we wrestle it will be fun.”
For several more, long, agonisingly ticklish minutes they assaulted me. I’d soon had to swallow my pride and was begging them to stop, but that led to only increased teasing.
Eventually Oli held up his hand, signalling the others to stop and allowing me to catch my breathe.
“You guys are all so dead once I’m untied,” I panted.
“Yeah, is that so?” said Oli. My shirt had ridden up slightly, exposing my stomach, and he playfully began scratching at my sensitive muscles.
“Y-yes hahaha! You-you hahahahaha stop, stop, you’re so getting it ahahahahaha, no, no quit it ahahahaha okay okay! You ahahaha win, you win!”
“Repeat that, I want to hear it again,” grinned Oli, continuing to probe my abs.
“You win! Haahahahha you win!”
“That’s my girl,” he said, stopping. “Tough tomboy my ass.”
“Urrr,” I said, practically growling like a lioness, “can you untie me now?”
“Mmm not yet,” said Ross, “will you let us take over the map and the planning for the rest of the day?” Before I could answer he was tickling my underarms, making me leap up and down.
“Ahahahaha please stop haahahah yes, ahahaha yes, you can take over!”
“That’s all we wanted to hear,” said Finn and with that they finally untied me.
Glowering, embarrassed, and worn, I gave Oli a punch on his arm, and he responded by grabbing my ribs, making me shriek and pull my arms in close.
“Oh Sam,” he sighed, “now we know you have a weakness and that you’re really ticklish things will be a lot easier for us all.
Indeed, for the other three the rest of that weekend was easier. As they had forced me to do so, I let them takeover, and whilst we took longer, we still made it within the recommended time. That did not stop them tickling me often though, even though I made it clear that I hated it, the frequent, usually unexpected assaults forcing more laughter from me. To my great annoyance it would not be long until Matt and Tash found out as well, and the next weekend, when we were all together, I experienced another tie up, which will be my next story.
Three years on, I still can’t stand being tickled. It’s so embarrassing. It does make tie ups more interesting though…
Thanks for reading, please do leave comments
*It was encouraged that we took rope with us and knew how to use it by the supervisors. The basis for this is actually quite sad, as Dartmoor can get very wet and marshy, and a few people, either during the training of the event itself, have died, having sunk into marsh with nothing to hold on to or been swept into rivers.